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The Gospel of John
Volume I (1-6)

THE WORD BECAME FLESH!

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

 

PROLOGUE - THE ETERNAL WORD BECAME FLESH (1:1-18)

PUBLIC  MINISTRY TO ISRAEL (1:19-12:50)

PRIVATE MINISTRY TO HIS DISCIPLES (13-17)

PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST (18-19)

POST-RESURRECTION MINISTRY (20-21)

 

Introductory Information About the Gospel of JOHN

The author:  Although the author does not give his name, he does refer to himself in many ways.  His references to himself reveal to us that the author was the apostle John.  In the final chapter of the Gospel, John identifies himself as the author"Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?') When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.' Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?' This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true." See also John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7  There was one disciple and apostle that was identified as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." (21:20)  Also, the author was an eye witness of what is described in John.  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)  "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe." (John 19:34-35)  "The writer of the Gospel has a good knowledge of the apostolic band.  He recalls words the Twelve spoke among themselves (4:30, 20:25, 21:3, 7).  He shows knowledge of their thoughts on occasion (2:11, 17, 22, 4:27, 6:19, 60f.).  He knows the places they frequented (11:54, 18:2)." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  There is therefore, strong evidence in the book itself to support the traditional view that John the Apostle was the author of the Gospel of John.  "It has never really been doubted in tradition that the beloved disciple is John." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  "Generally it is even made clear that this John was the apostle, the beloved disciple who reclined on Christ's bosom.  The major witnesses are Eusebius, Origin, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Ireneus, the writer of the Muratorian Canon, and Theophilus." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

The date:  "The Traditional view places it toward the end of the first century, C.A.D. 85 or later . . . More recently, some interpreters have suggested an earlier date, perhaps as early as the 50s and no later than 70." "NIV Study Bible introduction to John."  It can be said, then, that the date is not certain, but there is strong evidence that the Gospel of John was written at a later date than the other Gospels.  "Last of all, John, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the gospels, being urged by his friends and inspired by the Holy Spirit, composed a spiritual gospel." "Taken from Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, VI, XIV.7. "quoted in New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

The theme and purpose:  The theme of the Gospel of John is given to us within the Gospel.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2)  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)  John wrote the Gospel of John so that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah and God's Son.  "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31)  The Gospel of John reveals to us that if we believe in Jesus, we will experience eternal life, and if we obey Him we will experience an abundant life.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
". . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)

The manner in which the Gospel of John reveals Jesus to us:  There are eight miracles that each represents and pictures an aspect of the Spirit-empowered life that Jesus offers to us that each removes part of the effect of sin on us:  1) Sin takes away joy, and God's life brings us joy—turning the water into wine.  2) Sin brings soul sickness, and God's life brings healing—the healing of the official's sick son.  3) Sin brought us an inability to do good, and God's life enables us to walk a new walk—the healing of the paralyzed man.   4) Sin separates us from God and empties us of life, and God's life fills us—the feeding of the 5,000.  5) Sin creates storms of confusion and chaos in our lives, and God's life gives us peace—the stilling of the storm.  6) Sin blinds us, and God's life heals our spiritual blindness—the healing of the blind man.  7) Sin kills us spiritually, and God's life gives us new life—the resurrection of Lazarus.  8) Sin prevents us from being successful in God's work, and God's life enables us to be able to be successful in God's work—Jesus' miraculous catch of fish.

Seven symbols each reveal an aspect of the Spirit-empowered life to us.  1) "I am the bread of life" (6:35): if we come to Him, we will never hunger or thirst spiritually.  2) "Streams of living water" (7:37): God's life in us will be like streams of living water flowing from within us.  3) "I am the light of the world" (8:12, 9:5): God's life in us opens our eyes to be able to see spiritual truth.  4) "I am the gate" (10:7): He is the way to God's life.  5) "I am the good shepherd" (10:11): He guides us, protects us, and keeps us on His narrow path.  6) "I am the resurrection and the life" (11:25): His life resurrects us from being dead spiritually to being alive spiritually.  7) "I am the true vine" (15:1): staying in fellowship with Him provides us with His life so that we can be fruitful.

Six interactions that reveal to us how we receive God's life.  1) The interaction with Nicodemus (3): we must be born again.  2) The interaction with the woman at the well (4): If we drink the water that He gives to us, we will never thirst.  3) The interaction with the blind man (9): Jesus came so that the blind may see.  4) The interaction with Martha and Mary (11): If we believe, we will be resurrected from death to eternal life.  5) The interaction with the disciples (13-17): the Comforter, the Holy Spirit will come to give us God's life.  6) The interaction with Peter (21:15): God's life will enable us to be effective in ministry, "feed my lambs." 

How the Gospel of John differs from the Synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke:  1) There is nothing in John about the birth and childhood of Jesus.  2) There is nothing in John about the baptism of Jesus, temptation of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper, and Gethsemane.  3) There are no parables.  4) Most of Matthew, Mark, and Luke emphasize Jesus' ministry in Galilee, but in the Gospel of John only chapter 6 takes place in that region.  John's Gospel describes Jesus' ministry in Judea and Jerusalem (southern Israel).  5) There is much in the Gospel of John that is not found in the other Gospels: the first miracle in Cana, Jesus' time with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the teaching about the Holy Spirit.

 

THE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF JOHN

Most of the world lives as if there is no God.  Has God revealed Himself to us?  The Gospel of John reveals to us that God has revealed Himself to us in a very personal way.  God became a man and lived among us.  The most important question of all is the following question: "Who is Jesus Christ?"  If Jesus was no more than another man, then the answer to the question is not that significant to us.  But, if He was both God and a man, then, we should, above all else, seek to know Him; for by getting to know Him, we are also getting to know God.

The Gospel of John was written to reveal to us that Jesus was and is God become man.  It contains the most famous verse in the Bible—John 3:16.  It was written that we "may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing" we "may have life in His name."  Let us then, get to know the Son of God, and by getting to know Him, get to know God!

 

PROLOGUE - THE ETERNAL WORD BECOME FLESH (1:1-18)

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

Thought Question: How could Jesus be both "God" and also be "with God"?

 

 

a. The Word is God and was the Creator. (1:1-3)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  The Gospel of John was written mostly to the Gentiles of the non-Jewish world who were strongly influenced by Greek thinking.  For this reason, John needed to explain to them about the Jewish culture.  We see this in John 1:38:  "Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Rabbi' (which means Teacher), 'where are you staying?'" See also 1:41,42, 5:3, 9:7, 19:13,17, 20:16  John begins his Gospel with a Greek concept that he did not need to explain to the Greek world: "the Word."  The Greeks' term, "the Word" or logos in Greek was the Greeks' philosophical  concept that explained the order and design of the universe.  How did we get here?  According to Greek philosophy, the logos is the source of the wisdom that both started and has maintained the world.  The same concept is found in the book of Proverbs.  "By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew." (Proverbs 3:19-20) See also Proverbs 8:22-30  So, "the Word" or logos was a term that was part of both the Jewish culture and the Greek culture.

When John says, "In the beginning was the Word," his readers understood what he was saying—the intelligence that brought order into the world preceded the universe that now exists.  This would not have been a new concept to the Greek-thinking Gentile or to the Jew.  But what he said in verse 14 would have been startling—the logos that originated and maintains the world has become a man and has lived among us.  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

"and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  The early readers of this verse would have been startled at the words, "and the Word was with God."  The "Word" being "with God" states that "the Word" is distinct from God.  If I am "with" my wife, I am not my wife—I am distinct from her though we are together.  We are two separate persons.  So, John is stating that the "Word" is a separate person from God.

The next words, then, are even more startling: "and the Word was God."  "The Word" that "became flesh" "was" and is "God."  So, "the Word" who was "with God" is also "God."  Here we have a clear description of the Christian belief that God is both one and also three Persons—this view is now captured by using the word "Trinity."  Jesus is God, yet He is also "with God."

The Jehovah Witnesses have a problem with Jesus being God.  They reject God as being Three in One and believe that He is only One.  So, in their translation it does not say that the "Word was God," but it says "the word is a god."  The problem with their translation is that there is no article that can be translated "a" in the original Greek text of this verse.  In fact, there is no article at all before God in the original Greek.  It is what they would like the Bible to say, not what it actually says.  If they were correct, they would have also translated verse 13 "born of a god" rather than "born of God" as it is found in their translation of the Bible; for wording is the same in this verse as it in verse 13.  They translate one verse "a god" and the other "God" because it is what they want the Bible to say, not what it says.

"He was with God in the beginning."  Here, John repeats what he said in verse one:  "In the beginning was the Word."  Jesus, "the Word," who became flesh, pre-existed the fleshly man Jesus who was born of Mary.  The Word" was there when the universe came into existence.  Jesus states this in His prayer recorded in John 17:5: "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."

"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."  In the first two chapters of Genesis is a description of the creation of the world.  This third verse in John tells us that Jesus Christ was there at that time and was Co-Creator of all that was created.  Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2, 10 make the same statement: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17)  "but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe." (Hebrews 1:2)  "He also says, 'In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.'" (Hebrews 1:10)

The Son is the Co-Creator, for both the Father and the Son were active in the creation process.  "Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live." (1 Corinthians 8:6)  The Holy Spirit was also active in the creation process.  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis 1:1-2)

And, so, Jesus Christ created the stars He once walked under.  In fact, everything that he saw, heard, and felt were created by Him. 

b. The Word is light. (1:4-5)
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe His "life" is the "light of men"?

 

 

"In him was life, and that life was the light of men.The Bible describes what comes out of the lives of fallen men and fallen women as "death."  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." (Ephesians 2:1-3)  If what comes out of us is death, what does "life" look like?  It looks like the quality of life that came out of Jesus Christ.  When the Son of God became a man, He revealed to us what life looks like—His love, kindness, wisdom, and holiness is life. See John 10:10, 14:6

Jesus' life shines in the darkness of selfishness, greed, and lust and reveals to us what we are supposed to be like.  As I am writing these words, it is near Christmas.  We have something in our society that we call the Christmas spirit.  During this season, people seek to be kind and give to others.  Nursing homes often have too many visits from carolers and others, whereas during the rest of the year the halls are empty of this type of spirit.  It hit me this year that the Christmas spirit is like the life of the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  Someone told me in a previous Christmas time that he likes Christmas because people treat each other in a kinder way during the Christmas time of year.  But, during the rest of the year, selfishness, greed, and lust prevails—death prevails.  

But, even at Christmas, people are strangely blind to the reason for the season.  God becoming a man is drowned out by Christmas trees and decorations, Santa and his reindeer, store advertisements, and the holiday spirit.  The light coming from Jesus shines forth but the darkness still drowns it out.

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."  Jesus came into the world—God became a man and lived God's life before us—but the world continued to live in "darkness."  As a new Christian, my first roommate was blind.  If I woke up in the middle of the night, I could turn the lights on and my roommate would not know it.  So, Jesus turned the lights on in a dark world and the world continued to live in darkness.  But, the darkness also could not extinguish the light.

"Has not understood" can also be translated "could not extinguish it."  "The word can also mean 'to overtake' and, thus, by extension 'to overtake in pursuit' or 'to overcome.'  This is the clear meaning of the verb in the only other place where it occurs in John's Gospel—John 12:35—where we read, 'walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  You can light a match in the depth of a cave where no light can enter and that extreme darkness cannot extinguish the light from that match.  So, the extreme darkness in the world dominated by man's death and darkness could not and cannot quench the light that comes from Jesus' life.  "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Bible scholars differ as to whether "has not understood it" or "could not overtake itquench or extinguish it" is the preferred translation.  For example William Hendriksen prefers "not understood" A. T. Robertson prefers "not overtake." See John 3:19-21

Whichever translation is correct, both concepts are taught throughout the Gospel of John.  The darkness in men does not understand Jesus and the darkness of man cannot extinguish the light that continues to come from Jesus' life.  Jesus' life turned on the lights for the whole world and revealed to us what we were meant to be like, but the world does not know He turned the lights on.  Still in the world's darkness His light continues to be on.  "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him." (John 1:10)

2. John the Baptist's witness to the light (1:6-9)
"There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that "John" needed to be "a witness to the light"?

 

 

"There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe."  It would seem that when someone turns on a light in a dark room that everyone will immediately see that light; so, when Jesus' life came into a dark world, it would seem that everyone would immediately see the light of His life.  But, we are so darkened by sin and spiritual blindness that we do not immediately see who Jesus is.  I went to church as a child, yet I was still blind to who Jesus is.  I am not alone in this darkness.  "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4) 

The world of Jesus' time was also darkened by man's sin.  God raised up a man named John the Baptist (see Matthew 3:1) who needed to point to the light and say, "There is the Promised One."

"so that through him all men might believe."  The "through him" refers to "through" John the Baptist who has just been introduced as he "who was sent from God" and as he who "came as a witness" to Christ.  The "all" who "might believe" appears to refer to the fact that "all" could believe if they chose to believe. See I Timothy 2:3-4; II Peter 3:9

We read of the uniqueness of John and his birth in Luke 2:5-25, 57-80.  "Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.' . . . 'And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.' And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel." (Luke 1:11-17, 76-80)

We are told that there was no one greater than John the Baptist in the Old Covenant times, but every Christian "is greater than him." (Matthew 11:11)  John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets.  "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it." (Luke 16:16)  We, now, are also to be witnesses that Jesus the light of the world has come into the world.  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) See Acts 2:32, 3:15, 5:32, 10:39, 13:30-31, 22:14-15

"He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light."  John the apostle is clear here that John the Baptist "was not the light."  He was just a man like the rest of us.  Sometimes a Christian leader can become the focus of adoration rather than Jesus.  Each of us men are sinners saved by grace and we do not even slightly deserve to be adored.  John the apostle was probably correcting an adoration of John the Baptist that was occurring in his time.  John the Baptist himself was careful to point to Jesus and away from himself.  "To this John replied, 'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.” The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.'" (John 3:27-30) 

"The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.What God is like was fully revealed in Jesus' life, but God also revealed something about what He is like to all men previous to Jesus' birth.  "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)  The Bible also teaches us that our God-given consciences also reveal to all of us what is right and wrong, good and bad.  "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." (Romans 2:14-15)

But when Jesus the "true light" came into the world, He revealed to us fully what God's holy character is like.  When Jesus came, all of us should have recognized Him as the Creator God that had already been partially revealed to us through His creation.

"The Quakers appeal to this phrase for their belief that to every man there is given an inner light that is a sufficient guide.  The Quakers' text it is called."  "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  There is no evidence from the rest of the Bible that support this view.

3. The rejection of the Word (1:10-11)
"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that the world still rejects God's Son Jesus Christ today?

 

 

"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. Over the years, along with pastoring, I have worked with the Juvenile Rehabilitation system in boys' homes and institutions.  A word that is often used to describe some behavior that a young man is doing is that it is "inappropriate."  Often, these young men did not see that what they were doing was "inappropriate."  For example, they did not feel that it was inappropriate to belch when they felt like belching.  What is described here in this verse is something that is totally "inappropriate."  It is totally "inappropriate" for the human race not to "recognize" that their Creator became a man.  It was even more "inappropriate" for the Jews not to "recognize" Him.

"He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.The Old Testament dramatically described Israel's sin and their need for a Savior.  Then, the Old Testament gave clear directions about the family line of the Savior—David's line, located the birth place of the Savior—Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and gave many details about the life and death of the Savior.  Yet, when He arrived, they missed it.  He came to His own people Israel and to His own land, and they missed their opportunity to welcome their promised King.  And today, they still miss it.  "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him."

Not only did they not receive Him, they murdered Him in a totally public way, and mocked Him while He was dying.  They did welcome Him on Palm Sunday, falling down before their promised King and worshiping Him; but shortly after that they attempted to drive Him off His planet by crushing the life out of Him.  But even this rejection of the God-man was predicted.  "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? . . . He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:1,3)  This rejection of the Messiah by His own people is dramatized in the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew 21:33-46.  "Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. 'But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.” So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.'" (Matthew 21:37-39) 

4. The reception of the Word (1:12-13)
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

Thought Question:  Do you believe that these verses teach that we first receive Jesus Christ and then are born again, or that we are born again and then we receive Him?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God"  Most of the world did not and does not receive Jesus in the appropriate way; most do not receive Him as who He is—God, Ruler, Lord, Creator, and Savior.  But to those who do receive Him in the appropriate way, they are given "the right to become children of God."

There are a number of important words in this verse.  Each of these words is of utmost importance to us.  We will look at the meaning of each of these words.  The key words I will focus on are "received," "believed," "his name," "gave the right," and "children of God."

First of all, "received" is the opposite of rejected.  The difference between someone receiving us and someone rejecting us is quite stark.  Years ago, I took an internship at a large church In Los Angeles.  We were invited to a attend a Bible study on Friday night.  Attending that Bible study became one of the greatest joys of our lives.  A major reason for our joy was how completely we were immediately "received" as full members of the Bible study.  Receiving Jesus occurs when we give a full welcome into our heart for who He isour Lord and Creator.  The "received" is in the aorist tense, so it does not describe the process that precedes the reception, but the actual choice at a particular point in time.

The second word is "believed."  "Believed" shows how we receive Jesus as Lord.  Belief here is a choice not to reject who Jesus claimed to be; instead, it is a full belief that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be and it is a full belief that He is exactly who the Bible states He is.  Doubting Thomas had that type of faith when he proclaimed, "My Lord and my God." (John 20:28)  He "believed" that Jesus is God!

The next words are "his name."  "The name for us is a matter of indifference.  Not so in the ancient world.  For men then it stood for the whole personality.  When, for example, the Psalmist spoke of loving the name of God (Ps. 5:11) . . . he did not have in mind simply the uttering of the name.  He was thinking of all that 'God' means." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co."  When we believe "in his name," we believe that God is fully who the Bible says He is.

The next words are "gave the right."  It is the Greek word exousia.  He gave us the authority to become children of God.  James Boice told the following story to highlight the meaning of the word "authority" or "right."  A corporal in his army was able save Napoleon from being thrown from his horse.  "Napoleon turned to the corporal and said, 'Thank you, Captain.' . . . In an instant the young man threw aside his musket and walked across the field toward the headquarters of the general's staff, tearing off his corporal's stripes as he went.  He took his place among the emperor's officers.  Someone asked what he was doing, and he replied that he was captain of the guards.  'By whose authority?' they asked him.  'By the authority of the emperor,' the young man answered." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  If we receive and believe in God's name, God gives us the "right" or the authority to become His children.

The last words in verse 12 that we will look at is "children of God."  Some believe that all those that God has created are his children—every person, then, is a child of God.  But, Jesus said that those who reject Him have another father.  "Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.'" (John 8:42-47)

We are made God's "children," according to this verse, when we receive and believe in His Son.  We do not yet embrace and fully understand all that it means to be His "children," but we will one day.  "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:1-2)

"children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.Christ is born in us in the same way that Jesus was born in Mary.  It was not Mary's or Joseph's decision, it was God's decision that resulted in Jesus being born though Mary.  Also, it was not anything that we did that resulted in Jesus being born in us.

A good friend of mine for many years who recently died at the age of 100, believed that this verse supported her Calvinist view that the new birth in Christ precedes our belief in Christ.  In other words, we believe only when we have already been born again.  On the other hand, I believe that we receive and believe in Jesus Christ and then we are born again.  My belief is that God alone can give us a new spiritual birth and that He does not do it until we choose to receive Him.  She believed that God chooses those who have no desire at all to receive Him and gives them the new birth, and, then and only then, will they desire to receive and believe in Him.  We both believe that John 1:12-13 teaches our very different views of how we are saved.

Since she is now with the Lord, she knows which one of us has been correct in our view.  Evangelical Christianity is also divided over this issue.  Strong and conscientious Christians stand on both sides.  Many of my favorite Bible teachers differ from me on this point and many of my favorite Bible teachers agree with me.  My own conclusion is that the Bible teaches that God has complete control over all that happens and we also make real decisions and are fully responsible for those decisions.  How can both be true?  I do not believe anyone knows, but if we emphasize one and deemphasize the other, I believe we are in error.  "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Romans 11:33)

My interpretation here is that these verses teach that we first receive Christ, and then we are born again; the actual new birth is not something that we do, but what God does.  She believed that being "born" not "of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" explain that we did not choose to receive Jesus, but God chose for us to "born of God" before we received Him.  She said that just like we did not choose to born into this world, so we do not choose to be born spiritually.  I leave you to decide which is taught by John here.  I will say that when I first read these verses as a new Christian, they seemed to be teaching the view that I continue to hold.

5. The word became flesh (1:14)
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Thought Question:  Who do you believe is the "Word" who "became flesh"?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."  The eternal "Word" who "was with God" and "was God" and who made "all things" "became flesh."  Jesus Christ was fully God and fully had flesh just like we have.  Probably the reason that John uses "flesh" here rather saying He was a man is that there was a false teaching at that time that said He did not have a fleshly body, but only a spiritual body.  In I John, John addresses this error. "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." (1 John 4:2-3)

Jesus was fully a man—He was born was born of a woman like us; He suffered like us; and ultimately He died just like we die. See 4:6-7, 11:33,35, 12:27, 13:21, 19:28  But, He also was God, for He never sinned; He spoke truth; He loved others perfectly; He performed miracles, and ultimately he was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.

Also, these words do not mean that God came into a man's body at Jesus' baptism and left him some time later just before His death on the cross.  This is the view that some taught at the time John was writing.  Jesus is fully God and fully man—100 % God and 100 % man, yet He was and He is one Person.

"We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father,"  When the "Word became flesh," He did not cease to be fully God, for His flesh was a tent or a tabernacle within which the fully glory of God's "One and Only" Son dwelt.  That "glory" shone forth from within His "flesh," and we saw that "glory."  See 2:11, 8:50,54, 12:20-29, 13:31  Jesus is not a son of God in the way we become children of God through faith.  He is "the One and Only" Son of God.  John 3:16 says He is the Father's "one and only Son."  Jesus has been the Father's Son from all eternity and he is also fully God.  Listen to Jesus' prayer in John 17:5.  "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." See also I John 4:9

"We have seen"  "The verb ["have seen"] contains the root of the word 'theater' and connotes more than a casual glance.  It involves a careful scrutiny." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  "The word that John uses for seeing is theasthai: it is used in the New Testament more than twenty times and is always used of actual physical sight." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

"full of grace and truth.In Jesus there is the perfect balance of mercy and righteousness.  "Truth" removes the rose-colored glasses and tells us the stark reality about our sin; "grace" is God's generosity toward those that He loves so much that He gave His eternal Son's life to pay the penalty for that sin. See John 8:31-32, 14:6, 18:37

6. The word became flesh explained. (1:15-18)
"John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, 'This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”' From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known."

Thought Question #1:  What do you learn from John the Baptist here that gives you insight into how to have the same type of humility that he had?

 

 

Thought Question #2: How has "grace and truth" come to you "through Jesus Christ" this week?

 

 

"John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, 'This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me."  The message of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ surpasses the whole Old Testament system.  He surpasses it because the symbolisms in the Old Testament point to our need of a Savior and to Jesus who is our Savior.  Jesus, though he was 6 months younger than John the Baptist "surpassed" him because He existed before Him.  Luke records how Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy before Jesus was conceived in Mary.  "Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month." (Luke 1:36)  Listen to Jesus' own words about His pre-existence.  "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'" (John 8:58)  Jesus is saying in John 8:58 that He has always existed—He existed before Abraham the father of the Jews existed.  In fact, He has always existed. 

John the Baptist, here, humbly acknowledges that he is neither older nor superior to Jesus.  The culture of that time saw the older person as superior to the younger person.  "In antiquity it was widely held that chronological priority meant superiority." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co."  Instead, John the Baptist saw Jesus as superior to him.  John the Baptist "testifies" continually (present tense) that Jesus is unique in that He pre-exists every single man.

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."  The Greek word translated "fullness" is a form of the noun pleroma.  It is also used by Paul in Colossians 1:19, 2:9  "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him," (Colossians 1:19)  "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form," (Colossians 2:9)  See also Ephesians 1:23, 3:19   From Jesus, each of us who are Christians received from Him the grace to be a Christ-indwelt child of God and Christ-blessed member of God's family and all that that means.  We receive "one blessing after another."  "Literally, it means 'grace instead of grace.'  Clearly John intends to put some emphasis on the thought of grace.  Probably he also means that as one piece of divine grace (so to speak) recedes it is replaced by another.  God's grace to his people is continuous and is never exhausted.  Grace knows no interruptions and no limit." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co."

"The progressive nature of this experience of grace is affirmed by the use of the use of the preposition anti, translated 'for' in the Revised Version.  It means 'in exchange for,' 'as a substitute for,' so that as one blessing is used a fresh one is substituted to take its place." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

Jesus is unique among men as He is the source of a continual flow of God's grace to all who believe in Him.  But even those who do not believe in Him receive God's grace—all that we receive that we do not deserve such as life, food, pleasant weather, beauty, and much more are enjoyed by even those who reject Jesus.  "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:44-45) 

From Jesus flows unending grace—it is limitless.  The Christian life and seeking to grow closer to Christ does not result in weariness, boredom, growing emptiness, and a dull routine of life; rather, it results in a growing fullness of life that comes from the fullness of God in Jesus Christ.  Barclay dynamically describes how Christ's grace comes to us.  "The different situations in life demand a different kind of grace.  We need one grace in the days of prosperity and another grace in the days of adversity.  We need one grace in the sunlit days of youth and another when the shadows of age begin to lengthen.  The church needs one grace in the days of persecution another when the days of acceptance have come.  We need one grace when we feel that we are on the top of things, and another when we are depressed and discouraged and near to despair.  We need one grace to bear our own burdens and another to bear another's burdens.  We need one grace when we are sure of things, and another where there seems nothing certain left in the world.  The grace of God is never a static but always a dynamic thing.  It never fails to meet the situation.  One need invades life and one grace comes with it.  That need passes and another need assaults us and with it another grace comes. . . The grace of Christ is triumphantly adequate to deal with any situation." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

" For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."  "The law" that was "given" to "Moses" was given to reveal to us our need for a Savior and it also pointed us to that Savior; but it gave us only the hope of a Savior and not the Savior Himself.  "Grace and truth" came to us "through Jesus Christ."  Jesus made "grace" to us possible.  There could be no forgiveness and hope apart from "grace."  The "law" of "Moses" left us justly condemned, for there was nothing in it that made "grace" possible.  But, the "law" did predict a Savior.  After Jesus became the sacrifice that "the law" predicted, then "grace" became available to all who believe in Him.

"Grace . . . came through Jesus Christ," because through Him, we now have received God's riches that we do not deserve.  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)  At Christmas, we receive gifts that we do not deserve—we did not earn them.  God has graciously given us the greatest gift of all—He has made us eternal members of His family and He has enriched us beyond what we can comprehend by making us co-heirs with His Son.

"Truth" " came through Jesus Christ."  The Old Testament symbols such as the sacrifices of the ceremonial "law" given to "Moses" pointed to the grace that was to come to us through Jesus Christ.  These ceremonies foreshadowed the Savior.  When He came, they was no longer a need for the ceremonies that pointed to Him, for the One they pointed to had come.  See 6:32 for another place in the Gospel of John that points out Jesus' superiority to Moses.

"No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.How can no one have seen God when the Old Testament describes God appearing to men and women.  Exodus 24:9-11 is one example:  "Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank." Isaiah 6:1 is another example: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple." See also Exodus 33:17-22  Though men have seen an expression of God, no one has seen the fullness of God's glory.  "'But,' he said, 'you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.'" (Exodus 33:20)  "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17)

Though "no one has ever seen God," the fullest revelation of what God is like is seen in the person of Jesus Christ.  He is "the One and Only" and He is God.  He has the most intimate relationship with the Father that is possible.  He is unique among men for He is God and uniquely reveals to us what God is like.  So, when we get to know Him, we get to know the "truth" about God.  And that is what we will be doing as we get to know Jesus by journeying through His ministry in the Gospel of John—as we get to know Jesus and we get to know God. See Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3

JESUS' PUBLIC MINISTRY TO ISRAEL (1:19-12:50)

1. John the Baptist introduces the prophesied Lamb of God (1:19-50)

a. John the Baptist was not the Christ. (1:19-28)
"Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, 'I am not the Christ.' They asked him, 'Then who are you? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' He answered, 'No.' Finally they said, 'Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?' John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, 'I am the voice of one calling in the desert, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”' Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, 'Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?' 'I baptize with water,' John replied, 'but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.' This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing."

Thought Question: What do you learn from John the Baptist here about how to keep the focus off us and on Jesus Christ?

 

 

"Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, 'I am not the Christ.'What is described in these verses took place after Jesus was baptized by John and after Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.
See Matthew3-4 and John 1:31-34

The religious leaders of Israel felt that John the Baptist's ministry needed to be cleared by them.  "The term Jews in the Fourth Gospel often carries a sinister connotation: The nation as represented by it religious leaders who were hostile to Jesus (7:1, 9:22, 18:12-14)." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  Because of what he called them, we can understand why they were hostile to John.  "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?'" (Matthew 3:7)  So, they went to him to ask if he was the Messiah or thought he was the Messiah—the Christ.  In verses 19-28, we find their interrogation of him.  They were challenging him: "Who do you think you are to be preaching the way you are preaching?"

John the Baptist answers their question before they asked it: "I am not the Christ."  "Christ" means "anointed one"—the one anointed by God to save Israel.  "Messiah" is the Hebrew word for "anointed one."  John the Baptist and Jesus were not the type of Savior Israel was hoping for.  They wanted a Savior who would rescue them from The Romans—a man like Alexander the Great; God, instead, sent a Savior to rescue them from having to pay the penalty that their sin deserved and from the power of their sin.

John makes it clear that though John the Baptist had a large following (see Matthew 3:5), he was not the Messiah.  George Washington, after his armies defeated the British army could have used his victory to declare himself to be the king or the dictator of America.  Instead, he vacated that place of power after a short term as our first president.  John the Baptist also could have proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, but he humbly and emphatically declared: "I am not the Christ."

"They asked him, 'Then who are you? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' He answered, 'No.'"  In the Old Testament, there are predictions of Elijah's return in the last days and a prediction of a coming "prophet."  "'See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.'" (Malachi 4:5-6)  "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him." (Deuteronomy 18:15)  "The Lord said to me: 'What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.'" (Deuteronomy 18:17-19)

Jesus tells us that John the Baptist could have been Elijah if Israel had humbled themselves and received Jesus as their Messiah.  He was Elijah for those who did believe in Jesus as their Messiah.  "And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come." (Matthew 11:14)

The coming "prophet" predicted in Deuteronomy 18 by Moses was Jesus Christ. He is both "prophet" and king.  "After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.' Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself." (John 6:14-15) See also Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:10-13, 27:46-47

"Finally they said, 'Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?' John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, 'I am the voice of one calling in the desert, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”'"  John the Baptist quotes Isaiah 40:3.  I have found it interesting that Isaiah has 66 chapters and the Bible has 66 books.  Isaiah 40 begins the New Testament portion of Isaiah (39 books in the Old Testament, so the Gospel of Matthew is the 40th book of the Bible).  Just as the Gospel accounts start with John the Baptist, so the New Testament portion of Isaiah starts with John the Baptist's role of being the forerunner of Jesus who opens the way for Jesus. See Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-3;
Luke 3:4-6

How did John the Baptist prepare the way for Jesus?  Civil engineers and road crews have opened the way for us to travel from city to city.  They lower hills, remove obstacles, and create flat highways so that our automobiles can drive at 70 mph from city to city.  To prepare the way for the Savior, John the Baptist was used by God to powerfully proclaim Israel's sin so that they would see their need for a Savior; a Savior who could free them from the penalty and from the power of their sin.

"Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, 'Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?' 'I baptize with water,' John replied, 'but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'"  The Pharisees were part of the delegation from Jerusalem sent to interrogate John the Baptist.  The Pharisees were a legalistic sect in Israel who were looked upon by the people as those who were most obedient to the law of God—and the Pharisees were proud of it. See Luke 18:19-12 and Philippians 3:2-6  Here, they challenge John the Baptist's right to baptize people, seeking like prosecuting attorneys to get him to incriminate himself.  John does not take their bait and keeps the focus off himself and keeps it on Jesus.

"Baptism was not a new practice in Judaism.  It was the regular rite in the admission of converts from other religions. . . The novelty in John's case and the sting behind his practice was that he applied to Jews the ceremony which was held to be appropriate in the case of Gentiles coming newly into the faith.  All Jews were prepared to accept the view that Gentiles were defiled and needed cleansing.  But to put Jews in the same class was horrifying." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co." 

The purpose of John's baptism, though, was to point men to the One who was greater than himself.  John does let the "Pharisees" get him off track.  His purpose was to exalt Jesus Christ, and he continues with his purpose.

"'I baptize with water,' John replied, 'but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'"  The proud "Pharisees" must have found John's humility disarming.  A slave would remove the shoes of a rich man.  John was not even worthy to be a slave to Jesus.

"This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.This Bethany was not the Bethany near Jerusalem that was the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. See John 11:1; Matthew 21:17

b. Jesus is the Lamb of God. (1:29-34)
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.' Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe that John the Baptist meant when he called Jesus "the Lamb of God"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do you believe is taught to us by the "Holy Spirit" coming down upon Jesus like a "dove"?

 

 

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"  John, in just a few words, proclaims Jesus' main purpose for becoming a man.  He was God's Lamb offered as a sacrifice for our sins.  God directed the people of Israel to continually make sacrifices in Jerusalem at the temple that He had directed them to build.  Passover lambs were sacrificed there once a year, pointing back to the lambs' blood that was put on the doorways of each Jewish family in Egypt during Moses' time.  That blood had rescued the first-born of Israel from God's judgment in Egypt in Moses' time.  Paul explained that those lambs pointed to Jesus Christ:  "Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Corinthians 5:7)  But the sacrifices were not just made at the Passover Feast, they were made all year and even every day.  Two lambs were sacrificed each day—one in the morning and one in the evening.  "'This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight. With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Sacrifice the other lamb at twilight with the same grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning—a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire. For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you;'" (Exodus 29:38-42)  "Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight . . ." (Numbers 28:4)

Many more animals were sacrificed at special festivals throughout the years.  At the Feast of Tabernacles, for example, nearly 200 animals were sacrificed. See Numbers 29:12-38  In addition, sacrifices were made by individual Israelites for their sins and to symbolize their fellowship with God.  Also, sacrifices were made prior to the time of the temple in Jerusalem.  Abel offered sacrifices to God from his flock of sheep. See Genesis 5:4  Abraham nearly offered his son as a sacrifice to God before God stopped him and provided him with a ram for the sacrifice. See Genesis 22  As Ray Stedman points out, "A river of blood runs through the Old Testament." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

Why all the blood?  It is explained in Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:22.  "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life." (Leviticus 17:11)  "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22)

What was all the blood pointing to?  It was pointing to the Lamb of God's blood sacrifice given to pay the penalty for our sins.  John the Baptist knew this and pointed to Jesus and said.  "'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" See Isaiah 53; Matthew 8:17; I Peter 1:18-19; Acts 8:32-35

"This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.'"  John repeats what he said in verse 15.  What did John the Baptist mean when he said that he "did not know" Jesus?  It appears that though he must have known his cousin Jesus, he did not know that He was the predicted "Lamb of God."  If this is true, he certainly came to know Him in this way because of what took place when he baptized Jesus.

"Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”'"  Jesus' baptism teaches us at least 5 things.  First of all, it reveals that Jesus' ministry would be empowered and led by God's Spirit.  Second, Jesus' baptism into the water symbolizes His death and burial, and it symbolizes Jesus' resurrection from the dead—when He arose from the water it symbolizes that He would rise from the dead.  Thirdly, it symbolizes our death, burial, and resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life as we join Him by trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection. See Romans 6:1-14  God's Spirit coming down on Jesus symbolizes God's Spirit coming down on us through the new birth.  Fourthly, it symbolizes the cleansing from sin that was made possible by the "Lamb of God" taking away our sins.

Finally, God told John that when he saw God's Spirit come down on Jesus it symbolized "he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit."  Each person who becomes a Christian fulfills John the Baptist's prediction here.  "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Why did the Holy Spirit "come down" on Jesus in the form of a "dove"?  "Some commentaries point to the purity and the gentleness of the dove which properties in an infinite degree characterize the Spirit.  This explanation may be correct." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." See Galatians 5:22-23

 "I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.Here, we have John the Baptist testifying that his younger cousin is the eternal "Son of God." See John 3:18, 5:25, 17:5, 19:7, 20:31; Mark 1:1

c. Some of John the Baptist's disciples became Jesus' disciples (1:35-51)
"The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the Lamb of God!' When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Rabbi' (which means Teacher), 'where are you staying?' 'Come,' he replied, 'and you will see.' So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas' (which, when translated, is Peter). The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, 'Follow me.' Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.' 'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?' Nathanael asked. 'Come and see,' said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.' 'How do you know me?' Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, 'I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.' Then Nathanael declared, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.' Jesus said, 'You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.'  He then added, 'I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'"

Thought Question:  What do you learn about following Jesus from the way that His early disciples became His followers?

 

 

"The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the Lamb of God!' When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Rabbi' (which means Teacher), 'where are you staying?' 'Come,' he replied, 'and you will see.' So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour." 

In profound simplicity, we see here a most wonderful truth.  These two men wanted to be with Jesus and he wanted to be with them. They had been following John the Baptist.  John the Baptist pointed them to the "Lamb of God" and they began following Him.  Pastors, disciplers, and leaders of today should never point people to themselves, but they should point men, women, and children to "the Lamb of God."  We are successful to the degree that people do what these two former followers of John the Baptist did—they began to follow Jesus.

Notice that John explains here the meaning of the term "Rabbi."  This confirms that he was writing to Gentiles or non-Jews.  Jews would have already known what a "Rabbi" is.

He said it was "about the tenth hour."  This would be "4 p.m. on our time scale.  The Jews measured their days from sunset to sunset, and divided both day and night into twelve hours." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co."   Another possibility is that it was 10 a.m. Roman time.  Since he was writing mostly to Gentiles who would be familiar with Roman time.

The two disciples asked Jesus where He was "staying."  Hendriksen is probably correct, they "desired an uninterrupted conversation with Jesus." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  This began their time as disciples of Jesus. See Mark 3:14

"Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas' (which, when translated, is Peter)." 

One of the two disciples mentioned in the previous verses was Andrew.  The other unnamed disciple was probably John the author of this Gospel.

In the past, when a Billy Graham Crusade came to a city, they heard about what the Billy Graham Crusade staff called "Operation Andrew."  The purpose of "Operation Andrew" was to invite others to come to the Crusades and hopefully come to Jesus Christ just as Andrew had invited his "brother" "Peter" to come to Jesus.

My own brother Lynn, shortly after he had become a Christian, led me to Jesus Christ.  He also asked a couple in Denver, Colorado, to pray for my salvation.  When I visited them while attending seminary in Denver, my future wife was also visiting their daughter and son-in-law.  That is how I met her and we have now been married over 40 years.  My brother Lynn did for me what Andrew did for Simon Peter.  Andrew had a pattern of bring people to Jesus. See 6:8-9, 12:20-22

"Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas' (which, when translated, is Peter)."  When Jesus "looked" at "Simon," He did not see the outspoken and very impulsive person we see in the Gospels, but He saw the future apostle we see in the book of Acts who stood his ground and proclaimed the gospel message in spite of much opposition. See Acts 2:14-41, 3:11-31 See also Matthew 16:13-18  May we also see what God can do in others' lives and not just see who they are right now.

"Cephas" is Aramaic and "Peter" is Greek—petros.  "In the ancient Greek petra was used for the massive ledge of rock like Stone Mountain while petros was a detached fragment of the ledge, though itself large." Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press." 

"'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ)."  Both "Messiah" and "Christ" mean "anointed."  "To the Jews, it was the same as 'Son of God' (see Matt. 26:63-64; Mark 14:61-62; Luke 22;67-70).  In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed and thereby set apart for special service.  Kings were especially called 'God's anointed' (I Sam. 26:11; Ps. 89:20); so, when the Jews spoke about their Messiah, they were thinking of the king who would come to deliver them and establish the kingdom." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."

"The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, 'Follow me.' Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida."  Jesus and His followers were in Bethany east of the Jordan river.  Now, they head north to Galilee, which is in northern Israel.  This "Bethsaida" is believed to have been to the north of the Sea of Galilee. See Mark 6:45, 8:22, Matthew 11:20-21 

It is interesting that Jesus sought out Philip rather than Philip seeking to find Jesus.  Philip may have been a shy person.  For those of us who have been shy, it is encouraging that our shyness does not prevent us from getting to know Jesus.  Here, Jesus lovingly reaches out to Philip.  Though we may not believe that  no one notices us, there is One who always notices us.  "Philip, Andrew and Peter" were from "Bethsaida," but "Peter" and "Andrew" do not go to "Philip" to tell him about Jesus, but Jesus Himself goes to him.

We see support for the view that "Philip" was shy in other verses: "Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. 'Sir,' they said, 'we would like to see Jesus.' Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus." (John 12:20-22)  Philip did not take these Greek seekers to Jesus, instead, he went to Andrew and they went together to Jesus.

"Follow me"  It is in the present active imperative—a command to begin to continually "follow" Him. The verb does not tell us whether he was to "follow" Him to Galilee, "follow" Him as a disciple follows a teacher, or "follow" Him for the rest of His life.

"Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.' 'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?' Nathanael asked. 'Come and see,' said Philip." 

It is believed "that Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same person.  John never mentions Bartholomew in his Gospel, but the other three writers name Bartholomew and not Nathaniel, Philip is linked with Bartholomew in the list of names (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14). . . .It was not unusual in that day for one man to have two different names." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."

"'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?'"  Nathaniel was from Cana.  " . . . Nathanael from Cana in Galilee . . ." (John 21:2)  Cana was only a few miles from Nazareth.  "He had come from Cana of Galilee, a little village just over the hill from Nazareth . . . Today, Cana is a tiny village out of the way and off the beaten track, whereas Nazareth—due to its fame as the hometown of Jesus—is now a large city which covers the hillsides that used to encircle it.  In those days, however, the situation was reversed, Cana was a center of commerce while Nazareth was a dusty little village with a bad reputation." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  The Jewish leaders of that time were also confident that nothing good could come from Nazareth of Galilee.  "They replied, 'Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.'" (John 7:52)

Phillip does not allow Nathanael's argument nor his attitude to get him into a prolonged discussion about what the Bible teaches about the Messiah's home town.  He simply says, "Come and see."  My brother Lynn did not try to answer all my doubts and questions about Christianity, he simply said that it was new to him and he urged me to talk to those more knowledgeable than he.  Sometimes a simple response is better.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.' 'How do you know me?' Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, 'I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.' Then Nathanael declared, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.' Jesus said, 'You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.'  He then added, 'I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'"

When someone comes to God, there is always God's involvement in it.  "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)

God was miraculously involved in "Nathanael" coming to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.  Jesus revealed to "Nathanael" what he was doing before Philip and Jesus came to him.  "Nathanael" knew that only God could have seen him then.  He immediately believed that Jesus was no ordinary man.  He came to Jesus as Philip had asked him to, and he discovered that the Messiah could come from Nazareth.

We are not told why Jesus' revealing to "Nathanael" that he was under a fig tree so strongly persuaded "Nathanael" that Jesus was the Messiah.  He may have been wondering about why God received a deceitful man like Jacob, but did not receive him who was not deceitful like Jacob.  And, then, Jesus says that he was a man without any deceit.  The NKJ, NASB, and ESV translate the "nothing false" of the NIV as "no deceit." The Greek word used here speaks of catching fish with bait.  It is using deceit to fool people so that you can get what you want from them. See Genesis 27:35  We do not know why Jesus' words so surprised "Nathanael" so that he immediately believed He was the Messiah, but Jesus' words did persuade him.

Ray Stedman did not believe that Jesus exercised omniscient knowledge about "Nathanael" here.  Another man I know believes that Jesus always exercised omniscient knowledge.  My own personal belief is that the Father enabled Him to miraculously do that which fulfilled the Father's purposes for Him.  "Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.'" (John 5:19-20)

"Jesus said, 'You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.'  He then added, 'I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'If  "Nathanael" had been reading about Jacob or meditating on him, he very likely thought about what happened to Jacob that is described in Genesis 28:10-17:  "He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it." (Genesis 28:12)  Jesus, here, explains what was the meaning of Jacob's dream: "'I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'"

"Heaven open" refers to us being able to see heaven.  The book of Revelation unveils heaven for us.  We desire that heaven would open for us.  "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!" (Isaiah 64:1)  Heaven did open for Stephen when he was being stoned to death for telling the leaders of Israel the truth.  "'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'" (Acts 7:56)  Jesus predicted to Caiaphas that he would see heaven opened.  "'I am [the Christ],' said Jesus. 'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" (Mark 14:62)

"Son of Man" is a title that Jesus gives to Himself.  Throughout His ministry, "'Son of Man' was one of our Lord's favorite titles for Himself; it used eighty-three times in the Gospels and at least thirteen times in John.  It speaks of both the deity and humanity of Jesus." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."  This title is found in Daniel 7:13-14: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

When will we see this prediction of Jesus take place?  Boice believed that it will take place at Jesus' return; and I agree.  "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND Lord OF LordS." (Revelation 19:11-16)

2. Jesus' first miracle—turning water into wine (2:1-11)
"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, 'They have no more wine.' 'Dear woman, why do you involve me?' Jesus replied. 'My time has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.' Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water'; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, 'Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.' They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, 'Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.' This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him."

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe was happening here between Jesus and Mary? (Was her request an acceptable request?  Why did Jesus say, "Why do you involve me?" and "My time has not yet come."?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Do you believe there is any symbolism that applies to our Christian life in Jesus turning the water into wine?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"On the third day" or after three days of travel, Jesus and His new followers arrived in Cana.    They had  been with John the Baptist where he was baptizing people in the Jordan River, now they are in the northern city of "Cana," Nathanael's home town. See 21:2  In "Cana," they are invited to a wedding. See Matthew 25:1-13 for a description of weddings in those days.

A problem for the father of the groom had developed, for the wine was nearly gone before the wedding festivities had come to an end.  Some suggest that the arrival of Jesus with five unexpected followers could have been the reason there was not enough wine.  We cannot know for sure why the wine ran out, but the fact the wine ran out created a social calamity for the father of the groom.   It was looked upon as a social disgrace for a father of the groom to not have enough wine for his son's wedding.  The focus of the community was on this wedding, and not having enough wine at his son's wedding would also have become the focus of the community.

Mary informed Jesus that the wine had run out.  Jesus' response is to say to her: "Dear women, why do you involve me?"  Barclay gives this explanation of the meaning of Jesus' words:  "Don't worry; you don't quite understand what is going on; leave them to me and I will settle them in my own way." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  Jesus had reached manhood and now it appears that the relationship of Jesus and Mary had changed from child to mother to woman to God; though, when he addresses her as "woman," it is not in a disrespectful way.  He uses the same word in a respectful way in John 19:25-26: "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,'" (John 19:25-26) 

"'Jesus replied. 'My time has not yet come.'"  It appears that Mary was expecting Him to begin to reveal Himself as the Messiah.  But that would not take place fully  until He was crucified.  There was a misunderstanding among His close followers of His ultimate purpose.  They thought His purpose was to rescue them from the Romans; but He came to rescue them from their sin.  His hour would come when He was hung on the cross, as we can see from the following verses:  "He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come." (John 8:20)  "Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.'" (John 12:23)  "'Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!' Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”'" (John 12:27-28)  "It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love." (John 13:1)  "Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.'" (Matthew 26:45)

"His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.'"  From this point on, Mary learns that Jesus was under the rule of His Father and He would do what His Father directed Him to do.  "Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'" (John 5:19)  Mary treats Jesus no longer as her son, but as her Lord.  There was some of this transition from Jesus as her son to Jesus as her Lord when He was 12 years old.  "'Why were you searching for me?' he asked. 'Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?' But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart." (Luke 2:49-51)

There were signs that may have indicated to Mary that the purpose for Jesus' virgin birth and His unique life on earth were beginning to be revealed.  She may have heard of His baptism, of God the Father speaking from heaven, and the Holy Spirit coming down on Him. See Matthew 1:16-17  Also, He arrived with five followers.  Mary appears to have realized with eager excitement that she was about to witness the unveiling of her unique Son's mission on earth.  It does not appear, though, that she realized or knew that His primary purpose would be fulfilled on a cross in Jerusalem.

"Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water'; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, 'Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.' They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, 'Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.'" 

"six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing,"  "Ceremonial washing" was part of the prescribed ceremony given by God to symbolize the cleansing from sin that would come through Christ's blood. See II Kings 2:11; Mark 7:3

It is interesting that "six water jars" would be available, possibly replacing the wine drunk by the six unexpected guests.  They may have had no gifts, but Jesus' gift was given when the wine was miraculously provided.

Jesus quietly changes 120-180 gallons of water into the best wine.  "The master of the banquet," like a head of a modern catering service, is amazed that this wine is not the cheap wine that usually was served at the end of the wedding feast—when the senses became so numbed that the guests could not tell the difference between good wine and cheap wine.

In our modern world where alcohol is the cause of accidents and fatalities in fast-moving vehicles, we can be shocked that Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine.  Even though Jesus performed this miracle, the Bible does condemn drunkenness. See Ephesians 5:18; Proverbs 20:1, 23:19-21, 29-35  The Bible also sees alcohol in a positive way. "The Lord will reply to them: 'I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.'" (Joel 2:19)  "wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart." (Psalm 104:15) See also II Samuel 16:2; Ecclesiastes 10:19  Wine can accentuate joy, when used on special occasions and when not abused.  Jesus' first miracle pictures how Jesus' life in us brings us joy.  "But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy . . ." (Galatians 5:22)

"This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.Notice, only Mary, Jesus' followers, and the servants actually saw the miracle.  Jesus' miraculous ministry started quietly, only witnessed by a very few in a remote village.  But, His disciples now saw that they were following the One sent by God.  He miraculously brought joy at a party.  He brings real joy to the world, as the song "Joy to the World" states.  Joyless Christians are two words that should not go together.  Joy was the way Jesus revealed His glory to the world.  It is the way we reveal His glory to the world today.  I would also say, as the wine was better at the end of the wedding feast than the first part of the feast at Cana, so our joy in the later half of our Christian life should be greater than our joy at the early part of our Christian life.

2. Jesus' first cleansing of the temple (2:12-25)
"After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!' His disciples remembered that it is written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.' Then the Jews demanded of him, 'What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe that Jesus' anger was sinless and appropriate?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  When can our anger be sinless and appropriate?

 

 

"After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days."  "Cana was on the uplands whereas Capernaum was by the Sea of Galilee." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co." 

This is the last mention of Mary, Jesus' mother until near Jesus' death.  "Capernaum" became a central city in Jesus' ministry, but at this time, Jesus "stayed for" only "a few days."  "Capernaum" is referred to as Jesus' "own town" in Matthew 9:1, so it appears that Jesus moved there.  Here, we learn for the first time that Jesus had "brothers." See also Matthew 6:3, 12:46-50; John 7:2-5  

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!'  His disciples remembered that it is written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'" Jesus also cleansed the temple at the time of His crucifixion. See Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46  In these accounts, Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.  "these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 56:7)  "Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 7:11)

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover,"  John record three Passovers, and possibly four: #1 - Here, and 2:23; #2 - possibly 5:1, #3 - 6:4; #4 - 11:55, 12:1, 13:1, 18:28, 19:14.  The "Passover"  was one of three times on the Jewish calendar when Israel was to travel to Jerusalem—the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. See Deuteronomy 16:16  The Passover Feast was the Feast most well attended. 

"In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money."  Because those who had traveled from a great distance could not bring animals with them, they needed to buy animals in Jerusalem so they could make the prescribed Passover sacrifices.  Also, those from other countries needed to have their money exchanged into local money so they could pay the annual temple tax.  Although the people from Israel were supposed to be able to bring their own sacrifices, often their sacrifices were not found acceptable by the religious leaders and so they also needed to buy animals in Jerusalem.  Those who sold these animals and exchanged money overcharged for the animals and overcharged for the exchanging of money.  As Jesus said at a later time, quoting Jeremiah 7:11: "Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 7:11) See Exodus 30:13

Also, all of this selling of animals and money changing was not taking place outside of the temple grounds, but inside the temple grounds.  Inside the temple area you could see that greedy men were fleecing poor people out of the last of their monies, you could hear the sounds of animals, there was the smell of a barnyard, and there was general chaos.  This is what greeted Jesus in His "Father's house."

"The condition of the temple was a vivid indication of the spiritual condition of the nation.  Their religion was a dull routine presided over by worldly minded men whose main desire was to exercise authority and get rich." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books." 

"So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!'"  Ray Stedman recounts a story of a member of a women's Bible study group who did not like this part of the Bible.  She liked the part of the Bible where Jesus is kind and loving, but did not like seeing Jesus getting red hot angry at those people in the temple.  Did Jesus just "lose it"?  The answer has to be, "No"; for He never sinned.  So, then, why was what He did appropriate and sinless?

It was sinless and appropriate because it was holy anger.  Throughout the Old Testament there are examples of God's holy wrath against sin.  The Old Testament ends with Malachi.  Listen to these words in Malachi:  "True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 'For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,' says the Lord Almighty." (Malachi 2:6-8)  "You ask, 'Why?' It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant." (Malachi 2:14-2)  "You have wearied the Lord with your words. 'How have we wearied him?' you ask. By saying, 'All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them' or 'Where is the God of justice?' 'See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. 'So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,' says the Lord Almighty." (Malachi 2:17-3:5)

Jesus' anger at this time pictures His holy wrath against sin.  One day, He will return and we will see that His patience with this sinful world will have come to an end.  That day in the temple, Israel saw only a small example of His final wrath.  Also, it was not a selfish and out-of-control anger like we can express.  If He had really "lost it," He had the power to have done much more than toss a few tables around.  No one died and no animal was hurt.  He dealt strongly with the desecration of his Father's house and no more.

"His disciples remembered that it is written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"  These words come from Psalm 69:9.  It is identified a number of times as a Messianic Psalm. See Matthew 27:24, 48; John 15:25; Romans 11:9-10, 15:3  God's temple should have been a place of humble reverence; instead, it was a place irreverence and greed.  Jesus' consuming zeal was that it would be cleansed of the greed and irreverence and be what it was designed to be—a place where God's people could focus on their reverence and gratitude to God

Jesus' zeal is the type of zeal that we are to have today—a zeal that God's church would be pure of immorality, greed, selfish ambition, and pride.  James, the author of the book of James and Jesus' half-brother, had that type of zeal.  "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:16-17)  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:7-10)

There is an interesting contrast between the first miracle in verses 1-11 and the cleansing of the temple.  Jesus is invited to a wedding, versus He is not welcome at the temple; He was appreciated at the wedding, and resented at the temple; He filled the pots, versus He emptied the temple; and He expressed grace at the wedding, versus gave out judgment at the temple.

There is also an irony in the cleansing of the temple.  During the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, Israel was supposed to cleanse itself of all yeast; which symbolized cleansing Israel of all sin.  But Israel did not cleanse the temple of the sin that was going on there.  Instead, Jesus cleansed the temple.

"Then the Jews demanded of him, 'What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?'"  What response do we expect from those who were able to cold-heartedly cheat the poor out of their meager money?  They did not see that what He had done was an appropriate response to their sin.  His disciples who were receptive to Him, saw the cleansing of the temple as a sign that He was the Messiah.  The hardened religious leaders still wanted a sign.  They attempted to put Him on the spot by demanding that He give them a miraculous sign.  Why didn't He right there in front of them prove to them that He was the Messiah?  If He had levitated into the air before their wondering eyes, they would have certainly fallen to their knees in fear.  But what would have also happened is that their hearts would have remained hardened, and they would not have humbly confessed their sins.  They did not repent even when He did perform miracles before them.  "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." (John 12:37)

They were not asking Him for a sign, hoping that He would show them that He was the Messiah.  Behind their words was, "Who do you think you are?  You have no right to come and disrupt our religious festival.  We are in charge here, not you.  if you think you are so important, show us a sign and prove it."  But, they were sure that He could not come up with a sign.  What is said here to Jesus is similar to what was said on the cross.  "'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”'" (Matthew 27:42-43)  Instead of admitting their guilt before God, in their twisted thinking, they were taking the Son of God to court.

How did Jesus answer them?  Did He give them a sign?  His answer to them comes next.  "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' The Jews replied, It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body."  He threw them a curve ball.  Instead of demanding a sign, they were sidetracked into attacking His words to them.

"The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?'"It was in 19 B. C. that Herod had begun to build that wondrous Temple; it was not until A. D. 64 that the building was finally finished." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." In Jesus' time, it had been in construction for forty-six years.

Later, when Jesus was on trial, what Jesus said here was the only charge they were able to mount against Him.  "The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, 'This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”' Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, 'Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?' But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'" (Matthew 26:59-63)

"But the temple he had spoken of was his body."  Jesus was predicting that they would kill His body, but he would raise it from the dead.  The literal temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, but up to the time that I am writing these words, the temple has not yet been rebuilt.

"After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name."  The temple that had been indwelt by God was replaced by the body of Jesus that was also indwelt by God.  Jesus' disciples understood this when Jesus was raised from the dead.  Though, they did not understand what He was saying when he first uttered these words.  All of us who are Christians have had some part of Scripture that we have not understood, but have understood it at some later time.  Here, the disciples later understood that Jesus was the temple of God.  His body died on the cross, but it was raised on the third day.  Today, we Christians are God's temple, indwelt by God.  "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16)

"Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."  Which "Scripture" did they believe?  John may have been speaking of Psalm 16:9-10:  "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay."  Peter quotes these verses in Acts 2:29-31, showing that he understood it to be referring to Christ's resurrection.  "'Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.'" See also Acts 13:35

"Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.This section of verses could be summed up in the following way:  "Men believed in Him, but He did not believe in men."  While in Jerusalem, Jesus performed miracles and the crowds were awed by them and believed in Him.  These were the miracles that attracted Nicodemus to Jesus. See next chapter.  But, Jesus knew that the crowd's response to His miracles did not mean that they would all become humble, obedient, and sacrificial servants of God.  In John 6, the crowds followed Jesus after He had provided a miraculous meal for more than 5,000 of them, but they left Him when he explained the meaning of the miracle.  "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'" (John 6:60) See John 6:25-71

Jesus "knew" "men."  "He knew that the human heart is attracted to the sensational." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."  Today, events with many Christian singing groups or led by a famous healer will attract large crowds.  But these crowds can be similar to the large crowds that were attracted to Jesus by His miracles.  Everyone in the crowds has not necessarily decided to pay the cost of being a lifelong disciple of Christ.

As was mentioned earlier in John, Jesus knew Nathanael (see 1:47-51), there is some debate over whether or not Jesus exercised His omniscience during His ministry.  Did He know exactly what each man was thinking?  Or, did He know what men were like in a general way?  Whatever He knew, we can be sure that He did know that men's eager response to his miracles was not an indication of the type of belief that would result in genuine repentance and a life of genuine faith.  It was merely an excitement about His miracles and not the type of belief that would lead to a turning from sin to obedience to God.  Sadly, many of the same people who cheered Him here, also jeered Him when He was on the cross.

For many of us in ministry, one of the most difficult aspects of that ministry is thinking that people are spiritually beyond where they actually are.  They show some hopeful signs and you move immediately in your mind to what you hope these signs may be leading to—a place in leadership.  And, then, some time later, you learn that they have really made very little progress, no progress, or they may even be going backwards.  You looked on them as where you wanted them to be, not where they actually were.  Jesus did not make that mistake.  We will see in the coming chapters, examples of those who did become Jesus' life-long followers, no matter what it cost them.

4. Jesus teaches Nicodemus about the second birth. (3:1-21)
"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him. In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.' 'How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.' 'How can this be?' Nicodemus asked. 'You are Israel’s teacher,' said Jesus, 'and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.'"

Thought Question #1:  What can you learn about Nicodemus from these verses? (Was he a sincere seeker after God?  Why did he come at night?  Why did he not know that he needed to be born again?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you believe that Nicodemus should have known that he needed to be born again?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What is so great about John 3:16?  List whatever you can about why this verse reveals to us great truths.

 

 

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.'"  Who were the "Pharisees"?  They were a group of the most dedicated religious men that have ever existed.  Historically, there were preceded by a zealous group that refused to give in to strong pressure to turn Israel from being a Jewish nation dedicated to the worship of God to it becoming another Greek nation dominated by the Greek culture.  The main culprit in this movement was a Syrian leader by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes—a type of the antichrist.  His attempt to force the Greek culture on the Jews was climaxed when he put a statue of Jupiter in the Holy of Holies at the temple in Jerusalem and forced the Jewish people to sacrifice pig's meat to it—the pig was declared in the Old Testament to be an unclean animal.  In reaction to Antiochus there was the Maccabean revolt.  Ultimately, from this revolt came the "Pharisees" who were a sect dedicated to the Torah or Old Testament law.  They developed extensive regulations on how to perfectly obey the law of the Torah.  Nicodemus was one of those "Pharisees."

"The name Pharisee means the separated one and the Pharisees were those who separated themselves from all ordinary life in order to keep every detail of the law of the scribes." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

He was also part of the "Jewish ruling council."  This means that he was also a member of the Sanhedrin.  There were 70 Jewish leaders on the Sanhedrin.  There were members of the "Pharisees," the priests, and the elders of the people.  In short, Nicodemus held a very high position in Israel.

"He came to Jesus at night"  We do not know for sure why he came "at night," but the most likely reason is that it was safer to come at night when it was less probable that the other religious would learn about his interest in Jesus.  It may seem cowardly for Nicodemus to come to Jesus at night, but it took courage for Him to come to Jesus at all.

"'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.'"  Jesus was accepted as a teacher for Nicodemus calls Him, "Rabbi."  Nicodemus also recognized that His miracles were "signs" that God was with Him.  "We know" indicates that there were other religious leaders who knew He was from God. See John 12:42-43  Why, then, do we have only one religious leader speaking to Him.  All of the religious leaders should have been with Him to learn what God would say to them through this teacher from God.  Instead, Nicodemus needed to quietly sneak off at night to speak to Jesus, probably fearful of the wrath of the other Jewish religious leaders.  Others were discouraged from openly proclaiming their faith in Jesus out of fear of the religious leaders who hated Him.  "Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God." (John 12:42-43)  After Jesus' death, Nicodemus continued to be secretive out of fear of the Jews.  "Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away." (John 19:38)

"In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.' 'How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.”'"  In I Corinthians 15, we learn that to live in God's kingdom in heaven we will need spiritual bodies.  "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)  Jesus teaches here that for us to be part of His kingdom today, we need our Spirit to be reborn by His Spirit.  When I was born again by God's Spirit over 40 years ago, I began immediately to have an ability to understand the Bible in a whole new and exciting way.  It came alive to me, for the One who wrote it was now inside of me.  My experience has been repeated each time an individual is born again.

"Nicodemus" who was a religious scholar should have known this.  The message of the Old Testament is very clear.  First of all, no one is able to obey the Ten Commandments.  The whole Old Testament records men's failure both to want to obey God's laws and to be able to obey them.  When God gave Israel His law, they said to Moses, "Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey." (Deuteronomy 5:27)  But God knew they would not keep their promise: "The Lord heard you when you spoke to me and the Lord said to me, 'I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!'" (Deuteronomy 5:28-29)  Shortly after receiving God's laws, they made golden calves as idols. See Deuteronomy 9:7-17  Throughout Israel's history from then on, Israel turned to idols and turned away from God.  Their history in the Bible records their failures to obey God's law.  Finally, God's later prophets sum up the truth about man in this way: "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)  "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)  Paul, a former Pharisee, also echoes the words of Jeremiah and Isaiah:  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:19-20)

The solutions is found in Jeremiah 31:32-33 and Ezekiel 36:24-27:  "'It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,' declares the Lord. 'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the Lord. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.'" (Jeremiah 31:32-33)  "For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on
you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (Ezekiel 36:24-27)

What is the solution?  We must be "born again."  "Nicodemus" should have known that this was the main message of the Old Testament.  But, instead, he was one of the "Pharisees" who thought that it was possible to obey God's law without being "born again."  See the following verses for other references to being "born again":  II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 6:1-14; II Peter 1:3, 22-23; James 1:18; Titus 3:5

"Nicodemus" did not understand at all what Jesus was talking about.  "'How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!'He shows that he was blind and deaf to spiritual realities.  But Jesus had gotten Nicodemus' attention.  Jesus had taken him immediately to the crux of his misunderstanding of the teachings of the Bible.  So, "Nicodemus" could not understand what Jesus was teaching until he was "born again."

"Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.'"  What did Jesus mean by "born of water"?  This has been the most difficult part of Jesus' words to Nicodemus for me to understand over the years.  Some say Jesus is referring to the "water" breaking in a pregnant mother just before a child is born.  Therefore, it is another way of saying being "born" in a fleshly way.  That interpretation would be unusual to someone unless it was a familiar way for "Nicodemus" to describe the physical birth of a baby.  A more likely interpretation is that Jesus is stating that John's baptism with water was "not sufficient." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  Baptism without a spiritual rebirth will not enable one to "see the kingdom of God."  Water baptism must be accompanied by what that baptism symbolizes—spiritual rebirth.

It is also possible that water symbolizes cleansing from sin.  The baptism of John the Baptist was a baptism of repentance.  "And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Mark 1:4)  It could refer to both the water of baptism and what the water symbolizes—cleansing from sin.

"'The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'Years ago, as a child, our father drove us through Marshaltown, Iowa, about 30 miles from our home at that time.  A tornado had just gone through the town.  What I remember seeing is large trees that had been pulled out the ground so that their roots were exposed.  We cannot see the wind, but we can see what the wind does.  The Holy Spirit is also invisible, but we can see the results of God's Spirit as He transforms lives.  "In Greek pneuma  means either wind or spirit. . . . The word pneuma occurs 370 times in the N. T. and never means wind elsewhere except in a quotation from the O. T. (Heb 1:7 from Psa. 104:4)." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  Jesus uses the same basic word for "wind" and for "Spirit." See 3:6 where pneuma (and a form of pneuma) is translated "spirit" and "Spirit."  The word "pneuma" has also become part of words in the English language that refer to "breath"—pneumonia and pneumatic, for example.

There are many things that are invisible to us, yet are very real.  For example, we cannot see electricity, radio waves, bacteria, and pollen; yet, we know that they are real.  So, Jesus emphasized to "Nicodemus" that God's Spirit is real and that being born again by God's Spirit is also real.

"'you cannot tell where it [the wind] comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'God's "Spirit" is invisible and not under our control.  He moves and works according to His sovereign plans.  What God's invisible "Spirit" does in our lives is often a mystery to us.  The day before I am writing these words I taught a Bible study in the local jail.  I had been feeling poorly from  allergies that I have often struggled with in the period before the snow falls and there is mold everywhere from all the dampness.  Yet, when I taught this Bible study, I felt great and was very clear thinking.  God's "Spirit," I believe, had very quietly and invisibly energized me.  Tonight, I will be speaking at the Union Gospel Mission.  Two close friends will not be able to make it, so I will give the message and lead the music.  Can I count on God's "Spirit" to do exactly what He did yesterday?  "No," He has purposes and reasons for doing what He does and He does them for His own reasons.  We are not in control of Him and we do not know what He will do or will not do.

"'you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'Just because we have explained something well does not mean that the ones who are listening to us understand what we have explained.  We have all had the experience where we have done all that we can do to make something clear to someone, yet it becomes apparent to us that the light has still not turned in the other person's mind.  Jesus had explained the new birth very clearly, yet "Nicodemus" had not yet understood what he was talking about.  He did not get it.  It is amazing how dull we are to the things of God.  Jesus' own disciples did not understand that He needed to die for our sins. See Matthew 16:21-23  Nicodemus did not recognize that he was a hopeless sinner who had no hope for living a life that was acceptable to God unless he was "born again."  We also have no hope for living a life that is acceptable to God unless we also are "born again."

"'I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.'"  Who is the "we" in "we know, and we testify," and "we have seen"?  The answer appears to be found in John 5:20 and 14:10:  "For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these." (John 5:20)  "Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work." (John 14:10)  Jesus lived in such close communion with the Father that His words were both His words and His Father's words.  Another possibility is that the "we" could refer to John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Father.

"but still you people do not accept our testimony."  "Testimony" describes an accurate and trustworthy "testimony."  We can tell the truth, but how people respond to that truth is not our choice.  Jesus and John the Baptist received their message from heaven, yet people chose to reject the truthful message.  "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." (John 1:11)  "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." (John 12:37)

"I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?"  Jesus used human birth and "wind" to explain heavenly truth about the Holy Spirit and the spiritual birth that occurs when God's Spirit comes to permanently indwell us.  If Nicodemus did not understand when Jesus used "earthly" illustrations, how would he understand if He did not use earthly illustrations and spoke directly about "heavenly things." 

"No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man."  Who can reveal to us what is true in "heaven"—the "heaven" that is invisible to us—better than the only One who came to us "from heaven."  Jesus, here, unmistakably claims unique authority among all men and women who have ever lived.  Our authority as Christians is only ours to the degree that we understand and speak forth what God has revealed to us as heavenly truth.

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."  To understand the meaning of "Moses" lifting "up the snake in the desert," we need to read what happened in Moses' time before this event that is described here.  The people of Israel had grumbled against God and Moses all the time they were in the wilderness.  This grumbling is described in Number 21:4-5: "They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!'"  They were just like all of us when we do not get what we want and grow impatient and grumble.  "When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, 'What are we to drink?'" (Exodus 15:23-24) See also Numbers 14:29, 16:1-49, 17:10; I Corinthians 10:10 

At this point the people of Israel were not acknowledging their sin and saw no need to be saved from their sin.  But look at what happened next.  "Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, 'We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.' So Moses prayed for the people." (Numbers 21:6-7)  They admitted their sin of talking against God and Moses.  They saw their need to be saved, and God provided a way for them to be saved.  "The Lord said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.' So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived." (Numbers 21:8-9)

Notice, that the Israelites were not saved from the poison of the snake bites and from the poisonous snakes by doing some meritorious work to earn them this salvation.  Instead, they merely looked at the bronze snake on the pole and "lived."  They were saved by faith in God.  The "bronze snake" did not save them.  Later, the "bronze snake" was used as an idol and was destroyed by King Hezekiah.  "He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)" (2 Kings 18:4)

"so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."  What is meant by "lifted up"?  Later in this Gospel, "lifted up" clearly is speaking of Jesus being "lifted up" on the cross to die for our sins.  "So Jesus said, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.'" (John 8:28)  "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32) See also 12:34  So, as the people of Israel looked on the "bronze snake," and "lived," so we can look at Jesus on the cross and live.

"may have eternal life."  The Greek word translated "may have" is in the present tense, indicating that those who believe in Christ will continually have "eternal life" from the moment that we believe.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  We have come to the most well-known verse in the Bible—John 3:16.  The forgotten word in this verse is the very first word in the verse: "for."  "For" just as God had graciously provided Israel with that "bronze snake" in the desert so that all who looked on it were saved from His judgment from the poisonous snakes, so God has graciously provided His Son's death on the cross for us so that all who look on Him will be saved from eternal judgment for our sin. 

Martin Luther called John 3:16 the "Bible in miniature."  We see here the greatest love and the greatest gift ever offered.  And all that is needed for us to receive this greatest gift is for us to believe.  But, it must be understood that the faith talked about here is not just an intellectual assent that Jesus is the Son of God and He died for us, but it is believing from the heart that our sin deserved eternal damnation and that the Son of God died so that we would turn to His ways from that sin.  We have this type of faith from the heart when our eyes are opened by God, and we realize that we are dying from sin's poison and we cry out for a Savior.  Then, we see that Jesus was on the cross in place of our being there.  We should have been there, not He!  "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:4-6)

In this verse is a wealth of teaching.  Sometimes, as Barclay points out, God the Father is seen as "a stern, angry, unforgiving God" and Jesus is seen as "gentle, loving" and "forgiving."  "Sometimes men present the Christian message is such a way that it sounds as if Jesus did something which changed the attitude of God to men from condemnation to forgiveness." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  But we see in John 3:16 that it was the Father who "so loved" us "that he gave" His "Son.""  Dallas Holm, a Christian singer, when visiting our area, challenged the audience that included me with the following words: "Can you think of any better way that God could show how much he loves us better than by giving His Son to die for us?"  I have repeated those words many times through the years since then.  God the Father is not a God who desires to condemn us.  Out of a heart of infinite love, He made the greatest sacrifice a Father can make—He gave His Son for us—so that we will not be condemned eternally but receive "eternal life." 

There is the view that Jesus died only for the elect, but this verse so clearly states that "God so loved the world."  Jesus died for all, but it is only those who believe in Him who will receive the "eternal life" made possible by His death.  Those who believe that Jesus died only for the elect would say that "world" does not mean that Jesus died for everybody, but that He died for all types of people.  But the simple meaning of the verse is that He died for everyone in the world.  John states the same truth in I John 2:2: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."  Romans 5:6 makes a similar statement.  "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6)

"gave his one and only Son,"  In John 1:12-13, John said, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." (John 1:12-13)  But Jesus is God's "Son" in a unique way.  He is the "one and only Son."  In the early church, there was a critical debate over who Jesus is.  Some said He is God, and others said He is "like God."  Those who believed what the Bible teaches—that He is God—won.  It is in this way that Jesus is God's "one and only Son."  He has eternally been God's "Son."  John makes this clear in 1:1.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Jesus is both God and "with God" as the Father's "one and only Son." See 8:58  This is the "Son" that the Father gave for us!

"that he gave"  We do not need to earn or merit what God has graciously and wonderfully given to us.  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

What He gave to us came at the greatest cost to Him.  Love is seeking another's best no matter what the circumstances and what the cost.  The greatest love occurs when we give our life for the one we love.  God's love is the greatest because He gave His Son's life for us and His Son willingly sacrificed, in love, His own life for us as well.  "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (1 Peter 1:18-19)  "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Boice sums up the great significance of this verse:  "Some time ago I came across a card upon which someone had printed John 3:16.  The verse was arranged almost word by word down one side of the card and on the other side of the card across from the words of the verse was a list of descriptive phrases, one for each part.  The person looking at the card would read:  "God (the greatest lover), so loved (the greatest degree), the world (the greatest company), that he gave (the greatest act) his only begotten Son (the greatest gift), that whoever (the greatest opportunity), believeth (the greatest simplicity) in him (the greatest attraction) should not perish (the greatest promise) but (the greatest difference) have (the greatest certainty) everlasting (the greatest possession)."  And then over it all, revealing a spiritual perception that was most accurate there was the title 'Christ—the Greatest Gift.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."  Our judges' purpose is not just to determine punishment according to the law, they are given the latitude to determine if grace and mercy will be appropriate.  They are given a very difficult job, for grace and mercy are sometimes not appropriate and judges are sometimes wrong.  The parole board also has this type of decision to make.  God's goal is not just to punish men and women.  If it were, Jesus never would have come.  Jesus came that we might be saved from sin and its consequences.

The Jews of Paul's time wanted to see the Gentiles punished for their sins, but they did not see themselves as also deserving to be punished.  In Romans 1:18-32, Paul describes the sin of the Gentiles.  The Jews heartily agreed with his strong condemnation of them—his description of their sin and downward slide to greater and greater selfishness resulting in God's just judgment of them.  But the Jews did not see that they were just as sinful as the Gentiles.  "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." (Romans 2:1)  The Jews believed that the Messiah was going to come to condemn the Gentiles.  They did not realize that the Messiah was coming to save both Jews and Gentiles from the sin nature that we all are born with and that leads us all into greater and greater sin and condemnation before God.  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:19-20)

In Luke 18:9-14, a Pharisee is described who is sure that he is righteous in comparison to a lowly tax-collector, but Jesus says it is the tax-collector who is right before God for He acknowledges that he is a sinner.  "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'" (Luke 18:9-14)

As Christians it is not our purpose to be like the "Pharisee" in this parable and judge and condemn others.  Instead, we are to be like Jesus and be eager to see others be saved.  "I have seen many people try to 'evangelize' others through condemnation.  But this verse makes it clear that we should approach those who do not know God the same way God approached them—with love, compassion, and understanding, not with a wagging finger of condemnation and accusation, not by telling people how terrible they are." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

How can we be condemning and judgmental of others?  It is because we are blind to our own sin.  We do not see clearly how totally sinful and fallen we are.  Apart from God's grace, all of us justly deserve eternal hell.  If we did not believe in Jesus who took the punishment for us, we would be condemned and justly heading toward that eternal hell.

"Does not believe" is in the "perfect active indicative of pisteuo, has taken a permanent attitude of refusal." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  Perfect active indicative means an action that was taken in the past—they chose not to believe— that continues to be true in the present—they continue in that state of unbelief.  "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39-40)

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned,"  Some believe that this is not a universal invitation to all men.  They believe that God enables whoever he wants to save to come to Him.  The rest, so they say, are completely unable to come to Him and will always be unable to come to Him.  But the plain and simple meaning of this verse and John 3:16 is that "whoever" means "whoever."  It is a universal invitation to all men.  God sent His Son so that anyone can choose to believe in Him and be saved.

"'This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.'Why does not everyone turn to Jesus and be saved?  The reason is given here.  Men prefer to live in a state of voluntary blindness to the truth.  They refuse to hear the truth.

Why do they choose blindness and a state of darkness over the truth and the light?  It is because "their deeds" are "evil."  "Immersed in wrong-doing they have no wish to be disturbed.  They refuse to be shaken out of their comfortable sinfulness.  So they reject the light that comes to them." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co." 

According to these verses, there are those who "live by the truth" who come "into the light."  How do men come "into the light."  In John 16, we are told that God's Spirit convicts men and women of sin. See John 16:8-11  And in John 6:44 we are told that the Father draws men to Jesus.  It is a work of God that results in men coming to God.  Those who ultimately come to God are those who are willing to admit the truth about their sin.  "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." (1 John 1:5-10)  Those who come "into the light" are those who are willing to admit their sinfulness and their need for the saving blood of Jesus Christ.

This ends the interchange between Jesus and Nicodemus.  Nicodemus was ignorant and did not understand the basic teachings of the Bible.  But to his credit, he did choose to come to the Light.  And the fact that he was one of the two that honored Jesus by taking His body to buried, indicates that in the end he became a believer in Jesus. See John 19:38-42

5. John the Baptist's humble view of himself and Jesus (3:22-36

a. John the Baptist's humble view of himself (3:22-30)
"After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.' To this John replied, 'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.” The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.'"

Thought Question: What do you learn from John the Baptist about what your own attitude should be about whom people should focus on—you or Jesus?

 

 

"After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.)"  Boice introduced John 3:22-30 with these words: "We all recognize that humility is important and desirable.  It is one of the great Christian virtues, the opposite of pride.  But where does it come from if it so difficult to attain?  Or does anyone, in fact possess it?" "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  When we think of a humble person, we do think, though, of John the Baptist.

In these verses and the following verses is recorded the last days of John the Baptist's ministry before he was imprisoned by King Herod. Since it appears in Matthew 4:12 that John the Baptist was imprisoned at the time that Jesus began His ministry following the temptation by the devil in the wilderness, John "shows that between Matthew 4:11 and 4:12 (or between Mark 1:13 and 1:14; or between Luke 4:13 and 4:14; i.e., between Christ's temptation and the arrest of John the Baptist) there was a considerable period of time during which Jesus and John were engaged in a parallel ministry." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." See Matthew 4:12, 14:1-12; Luke 3:19-20; Mark 6:14-29

We have here a time when John the Baptist's ministry is still popular.  People were "constantly coming to be baptized." "at Aenon near Salim."  We are not sure of the location of "Aenon near Salim," except that it is in Judea.  But we can be sure that both Jesus and John the Baptist were baptizing at different locations.  Jesus was baptizing on one side of the Jordan River and John the Baptist was baptizing on the other side. See 3:26

This led to a very natural human dilemma among John's followers—counting who had the most followers, Jesus or John the Baptist.  " An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.'"  "Competition is one of the most toxic forces to enter the family of God.  Rivalry between ministries is one of the wedges Satan uses to break up the church and impede the progress of the gospel.  The rivalry in this passage arises because the crowds that once flocked to hear John the Baptist are now following Jesus.  John's followers had fallen victim to the numbers game: who has the bigger following?  Who is the most popular?" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." (2 Corinthians 10:12)  They also had an argument over baptism.  In both of these issues, nothing much has changed.

John the Baptist's disciples said that "everyone is going to him."  When we are upset or want someone to get upset, it is common to use such words as "you always" or "you never."  Here, the word "everyone" is used.  My wife and I have a rule that we not use the words "always" and "never" in reference to each other, because when we use these words we are both not being accurate and it discourages the other.  The Baptist's followers used the word "everyone" to produce an emotional response in John the Baptist rather than conveying accurate and rational information to him.  He was able not to give in to their tactics and responds rationally and calmly to what they said.

"To this John replied, 'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.'"  A sure ingredient in true humility is found in John the Baptist's words:  "'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.'"  Paul says the same thing in Romans 12:3 and I Corinthians 4:7: "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (Romans 12:3)  "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)  If we have insight into God's word, that insight has come from God.  If we have true effectiveness in ministry, that effectiveness has come from God.  If someone has greater insight in God's word than we do and greater effectiveness in ministry than we do, God has given it to that person.  The truly humble person accepts what God has given him or her as an undeserved gift.  And the truly humble person rejoices when God blesses another person, even if he or she is blessed more than He blesses us.  In the following verses, we see that John the Baptist had this type of humility. See a similar statement in I Corinthians 4:1

John the Baptist was saying that the fact that Jesus was gaining more followers and he was losing followers was because God was doing it.  And we learn in the following verses that John was pleased at what God was doing.

"'You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.”'"  If John wanted to be more popular than Jesus, then he would have contradicted what he himself had told them.  He had told them that his role was to introduce them to the Messiah or the Christ.  He was not to be the Christ.  Then, when the Christ had come, he was to step aside.  He uses a common occurrence in their culture and our culture to explain his role.

"The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete."  "The friend of the bridegroom, [in our society, the best man] the shoshben, had a unique place at a Jewish wedding.  He acted as a liaison between the bride and bridegroom; he arranged the wedding; he took out the invitations; he presided at the wedding feast.  He brought the bride and groom together.  And he had one special duty.  It was his duty to guard the bridal chamber and let no false lover in.  He would open the door only when in the dark he heard the bridegroom's voice and recognized it.  When he heard the bridegroom's voice he let him in and went away rejoicing." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  John the Baptist fulfilled this role with regard to Jesus.  He waited for the Messiah.  When he heard His voice and knew that He had come, he  "went away rejoicing." 

Just as the best man in our weddings does not take center stage, but is there to point to the bridegroom, so John the Baptist knew that he was not to take a central role, but he was to point to Jesus Christ.

Is not John the Baptist's role with Jesus the same as every Christian's role with Jesus Christ?  When someone sees us, hears us, or sees our ministry, they should not say what a great man or what a great woman we are, but they should say what a great God we serve.

Warren Wiersbe has a true perspective on our role of service.  Listen to what he says in his commentary on these verses:  "Often press releases and book reviews cross my desk, along with conference folders; and at times I am perturbed by what I read.  Very few speakers are ordinary people.  The are 'world travelers' or 'noted lecturers' who have addressed 'huge audiences.'  They are always in 'great demand,' and their ministries are described in such ways that they make the apostle Paul a midget by comparison.  A Presbyterian pastor in Melbourne, Australia introduced J. Hudson Taylor by using many superlatives, especially the word great.  Taylor stepped to the pulpit and quickly said, 'Dear friends, I am a little servant of an illustrative Master.'  If John the Baptist heard that statement, he must have shouted, 'Hallelujah.'" "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."

"'He must become greater; I must become less.'This verse is a favorite verse of my wife.  It should be a favorite verse of every Christian; for our goal should not be to lead people to ourselves but to lead them to Jesus.  Shortly after he made this statement, John the Baptist was arrested and died by being beheaded by King Herod.  When John's ministry came to an end, Jesus' ministry took off.  but John the Baptist had totally fulfilled His role on earth.  Jesus spoke these words about John the Baptist: "As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: 'What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.'" (Matthew 11:7-15)

b. John the Baptist's humble view of Jesus (3:31-36)
"'The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.'"

Thought Question:  What do you see in these verses that describes the difference between how the believer looks at Jesus and how the unbeliever looks at Him?

 

 

"'The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.'"  Barclay points out that "one of the difficulties in the Fourth Gospel is to know when the characters are speaking and when John is adding his own commentary.  These verses may be the words of John the Baptist; but more likely they are the witness and comment of John the evangelist [John the Apostle and writer of the Gospel of John]." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  Commentaries are divided on this.  I lean toward these words being the words of John the Baptist—his humble view of Jesus compared to himself.

John the Baptist was at a tremendous disadvantage to Jesus in being a spokesman for God—he had never been to heaven.  And John the Baptist recognized that.

John the Baptist is grieved that most do not recognize that Jesus is a Spokesman from heaven.  Isaiah predicted that this would occur when the Messiah came.  "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1)  John the apostle described this rejection in 1:11: "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him."

"The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.  The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands."  Though the general response to Jesus was to reject that he was God's Son and that He was the One who had come to them from heaven, some did accept Him.  When they accepted Him, they were asserting that they believed that Jesus' words were God's truth; when they accepted Him, they were accepting His claim to be unique among all men and women who have ever lived; and when they accepted Him, they were accepting that Jesus had come to them from heaven with heaven's message for them.  Prophets spoke God's truth, but not every word they spoke was God's truth—they had human fallibility except when proclaiming what was given them by God.  But though they spoke God's truth, they had not been to heaven.  Jesus was from heaven, and He was a unique messenger to us about what is true in heaven.

"for God gives the Spirit without limit."  Prophets were unable, because of their humanness, to fully receive heavenly truth.  So, they did not receive all that God's Spirit could reveal to them.  Because Jesus was from heaven, He could receive heavenly truth from God's Spirit "without limit." 

"The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands." See 5:19-23, 26-27, 30; Matthew 11:27  Jesus is the Father's perfect ambassador from heaven to us on earth.  He perfectly represents what the Father wants us to hear and see.  "Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.'" (John 5:19-20)

"'Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.'" See 3:18  When we truly believe in the Son, we at that moment and forever have eternal life.  We now are experiencing the same type of life that we will experience forever.  We experience the eternal quality of life in a fallen body with all of its sinful habits and inclinations, and we continue to live in a fallen world ruled by Satan and by those who are controlled by him.  But, our spirit is already experiencing that eternal quality of life that we will experience in heaven.  We look forward to and yearn for that time when we will experience the eternal life in new bodies free of sinful habits and when we will live in a world where everyone is ruled by Jesus.
"'but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.'"  "God's wrath" is also not something that will only be experienced after a person dies, but it is also the present experience of the one who "rejects' Jesus.  "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness," (Romans 1:18)  The rest of Romans 1 describes how God's wrath comes from the consequences of one's sin.  "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (Romans 1:26-27)  Ultimately, those who reject Jesus will receive the penalty for their sin.  "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." (Romans 2:5)  "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9) See Revelation 20:11-15  Each person on earth has a choice to make—receive and believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord or face God's just and pure anger for rejecting God's sacrifice for their sins.  What will that anger of God be like?  No one should want to find out!

6. Jesus' model of sharing the good news with one personthe Samaritan woman at well (4:1-42)

a. His one-on-one sharing of the gospel (4:1-26)
"The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.' 'Sir,' the woman said, 'you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?' Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.' The woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.' He told her, 'Go, call your husband and come back.' 'I have no husband,' she replied. Jesus said to her, 'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.' 'Sir,' the woman said, 'I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.' Jesus declared, 'Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.' The woman said, 'I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.' Then Jesus declared, 'I who speak to you am he.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do you see in the way Jesus engages this woman and ultimately leads her to faith in Him that gives you insights into how you can share the gospel message with someone who is not a Christian?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is meant by worshiping "the Father in spirit and truth"?

 

 

"The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.In John 7:1, we read these words: "After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life." (John 7:1)  Then, Jesus resisted His brothers advice that He go to Jerusalem and perform some miracles there to gain more followers.  He said the following to His brothers: "You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." (John 7:8)  Jesus actually avoided doing that which would increase His popularity, because He knew that along with that popularity would also come an increase in animosity against Him.  Here, as described in these verses, Jesus knew that if He stayed in Judea (in the south), His popularity would stir up jealousy among the "Pharisees," speeding up the time when they would seek to kill Him.  So, He returned to Galilee (in the north) where His success would not be as threatening to the "Pharisees."

Notice that Jesus did not actually do the baptizing, but His disciples did it.  Paul also did little of the baptizing during his ministry.  In I Corinthians 1:13-17, Paul explains why who baptizes someone can lead to pride.  "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." (1 Corinthians 1:13-17)  Jesus avoided anyone feeling they were superior to them who were not baptized by Him, by not baptizing anyone.  This pattern continues today when new Christians are baptized in the church by their father, by the person in the church who befriended them, or by others. 

"Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour."  Jesus only "had to go through Samaria" if He chose to go straight north from Judea to Galilee.  In between Judea to the south and Galilee to the north was the infamous "Samaria."  Jews usually avoided going through "Samaria" by going east of the Jordan River, then going north through the region of Perea.  Then, when they were to the east of Galilee and beyond "Samaria," they turned west to Galilee.

To understand why the Jews hated "Samaria" and Samaritans, we need to know the history of "Samaria."  First of all, after King Solomon, the nation of Israel was divided into the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom.  God judged the wicked northern kingdom when the Assyrians conquered it in 721 B. C.  The Assyrians moved many Jews out of their land and into other regions and they also moved foreigners from other countries into this conquered northern kingdom of Israel.  These foreigners then intermarried with the Jews producing a mongrel race. Later, Galilee was resettled by the Jews, but the middle area called Samaria remained a mongrel group of people, hated by the Jews.  See II Kings 17:23-33 and Nehemiah 4

Why did Jesus need "to go through Samaria"?  Why didn't He just go around "Samaria" as the Jews normally did?  Jesus did not just come to offer his kingdom to the pure Jews. but He also came to offer His kingdom to the mongrel Samaritans.  So, to do this, He "had to go through Samaria."See 10:16, 12:34, 20:9 for other examples of what Jesus had to do to fulfill His mission from God.

"So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph."  We learn of what John describes here in
Genesis 33:18-19: "After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent." (Genesis 33:18-19)  Jacob bought this land after coming back from hiding from his brother Esau. See Genesis 33, 48:21-22

"Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour."  "The Jewish day runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the sixth hour is twelve o'clock midday.  So the heat was at its greatest, and Jesus was weary and thirsty from traveling." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  Here, we see very clearly that Jesus, though He was God, was also fully a man.  On a hot day, just as we do, He got tired and thirsty.

There is no mention of "Jacob's well" in the Old Testament, though there is a well in this location today called "Jacob's well."  "Jews, Samaritans, Mohammedans, and Christians agree in associating this spring with the patriarch Jacob." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

"When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)"  In the last chapter in this Gospel that we just covered, Jesus met with one of the leaders of the Jewish society.  That visit was initiated by that Jewish leader Nicodemus; here, Jesus takes the initiative with a person who was the lowest of persons to a Jew—she was both a "woman" and a "Samaritan."  What a message to each of us—Jesus is reaching out to each of us, no matter how low in society we may feel that we are.

Boice makes the following contrasts between Nicodemus and this woman.  "He was a Pharisee; she belonged to no religious party.  He was a politician; she had not status whatever.  He was a scholar; she was uneducated.  He was highly moral; she was immoral.  He had a name; she is nameless.  He was a man; she was a woman.  He came at night, to protect his reputation; she who had no reputation, came at noon.  Nicodemus came seeking; the woman was sought by Jesus."  "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Jesus opens the conversation with this complete stranger by asking her for a "drink" of water.  We will never have an opportunity to share the gospel with a complete stranger if we never enter into a conversation with them.  A question is very easy way to start a conversation.  It is a legitimate question if we actually have a need for their help.  Jesus was thirsty and she could give Him a drink.

But Jesus' question got her attention in a deeper way, for Jesus, a Jewish man, was asking a woman and even a "Samaritan woman" for a "drink."  "'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?'"  Then, John explains why this shocked her: " For Jews do not associate with Samaritans." 

We as Christians are to be different enough from the world to attract people to God.  "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (Philippians 2:14-15)  "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:6)  "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 'Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.' But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:14-15)  "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)  Jesus gained this "Samaritan woman's" attention by being different than other Jewish men—by treating her with respect. See 4:27

For this "Samaritan woman" it was no longer an ordinary day.  Who was this Jewish man who talked to her, a "Samaritan woman," as if she was a significant human being; and even asked her to help Him by giving Him a drink?  Little did she know how extraordinary a day it was.

"Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'"  Jesus continues to surprise her and show her that this certainly was no ordinary day.  The man standing in front of her that day claimed to be no ordinary man.  He was claiming that he could quench her thirst forever.  Like Nicodemus, she took his using of a physical picture of a spiritual reality to be referring to nothing more than her physical thirst. See 3:4  But, He was seeking to lead her from her physical thirst to her deeper and greater need.  He was speaking to her of her greatest thirst, a thirst that only God's Spirit inside of her could quench.

A Christian song that was popular some time ago asked the question: "Is there something missing?  Is there more to life?"  Since Adam and Eve sinned, men and women have been born into this world spiritually dead.  We are, like an electrical appliance, meant to be plugged into a power source outside of ourselves.  We were meant to be indwelt by the life of God and empowered by His Spirit.  The "woman" at the well had that emptiness and thirst inside of her.  As we will see, it had expressed itself by producing in her a very empty life.  Before her was One who could forever quench that thirst in her life.

But she challenges Him on what He offered her: "'Sir,' the woman said, 'you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?'"  This woman thought Jesus believed He had found a better source of physical water than Jacob had found.  Further, since "Jacob" had only been able to find this well that they were next to, did Jesus feel He was superior to "Jacob"?

"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'"  Jesus used a perpetually bubbling spring to describe the eternal life He offers.  Each of us who is a Christian right now has this perpetually bubbling spring inside of us right now.  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39) See Revelation 21:16  Each of us who are Christians went from the absence of God's Spirit in our life to the presence of God's Spirit in our life.  Now, we are to choose to continually be filled with God's Spirit.  "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18)

Jesus' offer to this woman was not new, for this same promise of God's Spirit quenching our inner emptiness and thirst was made also in the Old Testament: "For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light." (Psalm 36:9)   ". . .  As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." (Psalm 42:1)  "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3)  "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." (Isaiah 44:3)  "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." (Isaiah 55:1)  "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." (Jeremiah 2:13)  "O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water." (Jeremiah 17:13)

"The woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.'"  Once again, she does not understand that He is speaking of spiritual thirst; she thinks that He is only speaking of a water that will meet her physical thirst.  She would have loved to not have had to make that daily trip to this well.  Today, we actually have the water that we need for our physical thirst piped into our houses so that we do not have to go to a well and carry the water back each day.  As Ray Stedman points out, we Christians have God's spiritual water piped into our souls.  His life is continually available to us.

"He told her, 'Go, call your husband and come back.' 'I have no husband,' she replied. Jesus said to her, 'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.'"  It started out when Jesus met a woman who was a complete stranger to Him at a well in Samaria.  He asked her one question and then made a mysterious statement about who He is and what He would give her—"living water."  Now, He has captured her curiosity and she asks a question.  Then, He tells her His water will completely quench her thirst and she will "never thirst" again.  She wants this water!  Then, he says, "Go, call your husband and come back."  Why did He say these words?  Her response answers this question.  "'I have no husband,' She replied."  He went immediately to her area of greatest need and her area of greatest failure.

Jesus' answer reveals this area of failure in her life: "'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.'"  Jesus wanted to share with her the gospel message, but she would have had no interest in it until she saw her need for a Savior.  Jesus quickly exposed her greatest area of failure so she would be brought face to face with her great neediness.

"With these words, Jesus penetrates the woman's denial, evasion, and defenses.  In an instant, this woman knew she could not hide from this man and His keen, prophetic insight.  He knew all about her—and yet when He told her about herself, He didn't seem to condemn her or ridicule.  He actually accepted her!" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  The goal of a chemical dependency treatment counselor, aong with the use of small group intervention, is to do what Jesus did here.  As Stedman said, penetrate "denial, evasion, and defenses."  Jesus' supernatural knowledge and a few words did that with this woman.  He exposed in a loving manner what she did not want him to know.  Notice how short her answer is to His question: " "'I have no husband."  She immediately puts up her wall of self-protection.

What in the woman's history had been the cause of the five failed marriages?  Was there abuse in her childhood or abuse in her marriages?  Did one or more of her husbands die? We do not know, but we do know that she was very needy.  It is unlikely that she had experienced real love.  But, here before her was a complete stranger who knew all about her great faults, but still loved her and accepted her.  It was all about grace and not about condemnation.  "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

Do we realize that just as that Samaritan woman's life and heart were exposed before Jesus' gaze, so our life and heart are exposed before Jesus' gaze?  He also knows us fully and though He does not approve of the sin in our life, He loves us fully just like He loved this Samaritan woman so many years ago.

"'Sir,' the woman said, 'I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.'What she does here often occurs when the gospel is being shared.  It is called a "smoke screen."  It is much easier to bring up arguments about religion than it is to acknowledge and talk about our sin and failures.  In the past, books on evangelism often would have a section on how to answer typical arguments that are commonly brought up when the gospel is being shared.  For example, one of these arguments is, "What about the heathen who have never heard the gospel?"  These type of questions are often not sincere questions, where the person is sincerely looking for an answer; but they are often evasive questions where the one asking the questions is seeking to change the subject away from his or her sin and need for a Savior.

The argument that the woman brings up was the single greatest dividing issue between Samaritans and Jews.  The Jews believed that it was the temple in Jerusalem where God was to be worshiped; the Samaritans believed it was at Mount Gerizim.  It was on Mount Gerizim where the blessings for obedience to God were repeated by the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin when Israel first entered the promised land. See Deuteronomy 27:1-13; Joshua 8:30-35  The Samaritans chose as their place of worship this mountain that was in their land.  They believed that the Jews chose Jerusalem because it was in their land.  So, this Samaritan woman goes directly to the issue that divided her from the Jews and from this Jewish prophet.

It needs to be stated here that some believe, Ray Stedman was one, that this Samaritan woman was not being evasive, but was instead going right to a question that she had a genuine interest in.  We cannot know for sure, but it is very human to be evasive when someone is hitting a painful part of our lives.  Also, Jesus does not allow Himself to be drawn into the issue.

"Jesus declared, 'Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.'"  Jesus does not enter into an argument with this woman over whether God should be worshiped at Jerusalem or at Mount Gerizim.  Instead, He declares that God is most interested in what is in the heart and mind of the worshiper.  It is really not important what this group of people believes or that group of people believes, but it is important what the "Father" desires.  The "Father" directed the Jews to build a temple at Jerusalem to symbolize that we can only approach the holy presence of God through a blood sacrifice.  The one who would offer that sacrifice stood before this woman.  When He would die for her sins and all men's sins, there would no longer be a need for the symbolism; for the reality that the symbol pointed to had taken place.  And shortly after His sacrificial death on the cross, the sacrifices at the temple ceased, for the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70.  Then, the controversy over whether or not God should be worshiped at the temple would be over. 

That time continues today.  And now, all over the world, we do not go to Jerusalem or to Mount Gerizim to worship; we "worship" God wherever we are.  Jesus tells us here what our worship should be like.  We are to "worship in spirit and in truth."  If we go regularly to an expensive and beautiful church building, and "worship" God accompanied by a very talented worship team, sing very well-selected worship music, but do not do what Jesus described here, our "worship" is not the type of "worship" "the Father seeks."  And after all, the audience in the "worship" service that we are seeking to please is not the congregation or the worship leader, but God!

How do we "worship" "in truth"?  We "worship" "in truth"  when we understand who God truly is.  If we see and understand who God truly is, we will be completely awed by the God we worship.  God truly is an awesome God in every way.  If our "worship" is a dry formality, God does not seek this type of worship from us.  These who "worship" "in truth" are awed by God's greatness—His goodness, mercy, amazing grace, constant love, compassion, faithfulness, immensity, complete sovereign care of all, absolute holiness, righteousness, and the list goes on.  How can we not "worship" such a wonderful and awe-inspiring God who has done so much for us?  What a marvelous opportunity it is to worship this God with others of like mind.  What a wonderful opportunity we have to worship this God each moment wherever we might be.

Also, worshiping God "in truth" means that our God is the God revealed to us in the Bible.  He is not the god of the cults and false religion.  He is the true God of the Bible.  It is worshiping "in full harmony with the truth of God revealed in his word." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

What did Jesus mean by worshiping God "in spirit."?  It is worshiping God with our whole heart.  It means that we really mean what we are saying and are singing.  It is not half-hearted "lip-service" to God.  "The Lord says: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.'" (Isaiah 29:13)  Instead, it is putting our whole self and our total attention into our worship of God.  This should certainly take place in our Sunday worship times.  I always enjoy looking at my dear wife during a "worship" time.  She is totally absorbed in her "worship" of God.  God deserves to be our first love.  True "worship" takes place when in our heart of heart, God has first place beyond all else.

How do we "worship in spirit"?  "Worshiping "in spirit" should not be confused with worshiping with our feelings.  Boice has this to say about feelings and worship.  "We must not confuse worship with feeling, for worship does not originate with the soul any more than it originates with the body.  The soul is the seat of our emotions.  It may be the case, and often is, that the emotions are stirred in real worship.  At times, tears fill the eyes or joy floods the heart.  But, unfortunately, it is possible for these things to happen and still no worship to be there.  It is possible to be moved by a song or by oratory and yet not come to a genuine awareness of God and a fuller praise of His ways and nature.  True worship occurs only when that part of man, his spirit, which is akin to the divine nature (for God is spirit), actually meets with God and finds itself praising Him for His love, wisdom, beauty, truth, holiness, compassion, mercy, grace, power and all of His other attributes." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

Feelings and "spirit" clearly cannot be confused, for Jesus says here, "God is spirit."  He certainly does not mean "God is feeling."  Feelings may be the expression of heart-felt worship, but the goal of worship is not to get people to engage their feelings—to get them more emotional.  True worship is not merely emotional worship, for emotionality may be sought just because it feels good.  But true worship will often be expressed in heart-felt emotion.  Only God knows for sure if our emotions are from the heart, for only He sees our heart.  But, again, He is to be the only audience that we should be concerned about in a true time of worship.  Worship is not for us to make us feel good; it is for Him as we express our gratitude and praise to Him from the heart—the heart that He alone sees.

What does Jesus mean by the words: " You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews."  The "Samaritans" had rejected much of the Old Testament written by "the Jews."  "The Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.  They rejected all the rest of the Old Testament." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  They, in this way, limited themselves in their ability to know God.

Those today that despise the Jews are despising the people through whom God chose to revel Himself to us.  "Salvation" has come to us "from the Jews."  Jesus Himself was a Jew.  Therefore, because the Jewish people are a cherished people to God, they should also be a cherished people to us.  This Samaritan woman needed to not divide herself from "the Jews," but learn what God teaches about Himself and His "salvation" from the Jews.  We need to do the same. See Psalm 147:19-20; Acts 13:26, 47 and Romans 3:1-2

"God is spirit"  It is these words that explain why the argument between the "Samaritans" and "the Jews" over where to worship was a very secondary issue.  "The Jews" could worship God in Jerusalem and the "Samaritans" could worship God at Mount Gerizim and both be wrong if their "worship" was not "in spirit and in truth."  We truly connect with God not in a place, but in our spirits.  It is what takes place "spirit" to Spirit that results in God enjoying our "worship."  Today, we can do it in the right place, with the right words, and even sing on key; but if our "worship" does not connect with God "spirit" to Spirit, it is not the "kind" of "worship" that God "seeks."  And this type of "worship" can take place anywhere, for His Spirit is everywhere.

"must worship in spirit and truth."  In John 3:7, Jesus said, "You must be born again."  Here, Jesus say that we "must worship in spirit and truth."  Why "must" we "worship" in this way?  Because if we do not "worship in spirit and truth," it is not true "worship"!  So, when we spend time alone with God and in all those times we join with others to focus on God, we "must" be careful that our "worship" is genuine.  We must be careful about whether or not our "worship" is done with our whole heart.  If that is not true, our "worship" falls short of what God desires.

"The woman said, 'I know that Messiah' (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.' Then Jesus declared, 'I who speak to you am he.'"The Samaritans looked for a Messiah, a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:18)  Simon Magus gave himself out in Samaria as some great one and had a large following (Acts 8:9).  Pilate quelled an uprising in Samaria over a fanatical claimant (Josephus, Ant. XVIII. iv. 1)." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

When Jesus said, "a time is coming," she knew that He was talking about the time when the Messiah was to come. See 4:25  She says, "'I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.'"  These words led right to Jesus' next words, "'I who speak to you am he.'Jesus had skillfully guided their conversation to this point.  This account is so familiar to us, we can lose the amazement she must have felt.  Try to go back to that day in your mind and seek to imagine what a shock she must have felt when she heard the words, "I who speak to you am he."  See 9:35-37

The Greek words that Jesus used are actually ego eimi, which is, "I am," or "the one speaking you—I am."  Moses asked God for His name.  God said that His name is "I am that I am." (Exodus 3:14).  Jesus not only said that he was the Messiah, but He also said that He was God. See 8:58 

The woman went from seeing Jesus as a Jewish man (4:9) to seeing Him and thinking of Him as a man greater than Jacob (4:12), to believing that He was a prophet (4:19), and finally, to believing that He was the Messiah. (4:29, 41)

b. The gospel spreads to the Samaritan woman's hometown. (4:27-42)
"Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, 'What do you want?' or 'Why are you talking with her?' Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, 'Rabbi, eat something.' But he said to them, 'I have food to eat that you know nothing about.' Then his disciples said to each other, 'Could someone have brought him food?' 'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.' Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe Jesus meant by: "'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do you believe Jesus meant by: 
"'Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.'"?

 

 

"Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, 'What do you want?' or 'Why are you talking with her?' Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' They came out of the town and made their way toward him.Jesus' disciples returned to Him at the perfect time, for He had completed His conversation with the woman.  Years ago, as a college student, I had an opportunity to share the gospel with a former student of mine while I was student teaching.  In the middle of sharing the gospel with him, two of his friends arrived.  I thought they would interrupt the sharing of the gospel, but he ignored them and this young man prayed to receive Christ with me.  For the rest of my time in college, he attended church events with me.  The disciples, though, did not interrupt Jesus' conversation with the woman.

"Then, leaving her water jar,"  Jesus immediately became her first love.  She had come to the well for water, but the water became secondary to her.  Her number one interest was telling others about Jesus.  She was like many a new convert: telling others about Jesus becomes the number one motivation.

"'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?'"  She follows the pattern of Jesus, she does not bluntly state that the Messiah has come and he is at the well outside of the city.  Instead, she invites curiosity.  As we will see in the next verse, they did become curious and came out of town to see if this man she had met was the Messiah.

"They came out of the town and made their way toward him."  "Came out of town" is in the aorist tense indicating the they responded immediately to the woman's pronouncement.  They were very eager to see who this man was.

"Meanwhile his disciples urged him, 'Rabbi, eat something.' But he said to them, 'I have food to eat that you know nothing about.' Then his disciples said to each other, 'Could someone have brought him food?' 'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'"  This is the third important symbolism that Jesus uses in chapters three and four.  They are concerned that He has been without food for some time, and they believe that He should immediately eat something.  He says that He already has "food," "food" that they are not aware of.  What is this "food" that He speaks of here?  "'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." See 5;19, 17:4  How is that like "food"?  The context here will explain what Jesus meant.  Jesus had just shared with a Samaritan woman that He is the Messiah or the Christ.  Was He thinking about food while He was talking to her?  No, He was absorbed with that which is much more important than physical food—her eternal salvation.  Now, she has left her "water jug" and went straight to her village to tell them she has just met the Messiah.  Was she thinking of her physical thirst?  No, she was absorbed in something much more important—she had just met the promised Messiah and she wants to tell her people about it.

The book of Ecclesiastes tells how the routines of life can become empty and tiresome—we eat to live, we work so we can eat, and on the cycle goes.  This woman had her routines which included going out to that well to get water day after day.  But suddenly, everything had changed and her life had meaning beyond her daily tiresome routines—she had met God's Messiah face to face.  She had actually met God.  That was Jesus' food.  He was involved in the Father's work, His will, and His plan.  Compared to fulfilling this significant and eternal purpose, physical food had been forgotten.  He had met this empty and sad woman's greatest need, and He had seen her life go from a hopeless life of failure and emptiness to a life of significance.  In fact, her life's significance continues as what happened to her affects us even today, 2000 years later.

What is the message to us?  Is your life empty and routine?  Then, you are either not part of God's will for your life or you do not realize the significance of God's work.  The Christians in the church at Ephesus as described in Revelation two, were going through the motions of serving God, but they had lost the love for doing it.  This Samaritan woman had that first love.  I hope that she kept that love all of her life.  If we have lost our first love, we can realize afresh the significance of what God has done for us; then, the meaningfulness of His love for us can be reignited and we can regain our first love.

"'Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.'"  At the time when each of us became Christians, we were ripe to be harvested.  What brought us to that place where we were receptive to the gospel?  Certainly, it was the work of God in our heart.  "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)  But, the Bible also describes a number of influences that God uses to draw us to Himself.  For example, God draws us to Himself by the trials of life (see Romans 18-22; Deuteronomy 8:3-5; Proverbs 6:23, 20:30; Jeremiah 4:18); by His love (see Jeremiah 3:13); through the Scriptures (see Hebrews 4;12; I Corinthians 14:25-25; Jeremiah 4;3-4; Hosea 10:12); by His kindness in not punishing us immediately (see Romans 2:4); through our emptiness without Him (see Ecclesiastes 1:2-3); through the godly testimony of believers (see Matthew 5:13-16; John 13:35, 17:20-23; Acts 2:47; Philippians 2;14-15); through the consequence of sin in our lives (see Proverbs 21:11); through others praying for us (I Timothy 2:1, 3:4; Colossians 4:3-4); and in other ways as well.  The result is there are always people that are ripening and are getting ready to be harvested.  So, as Jesus states here, the spiritual "fields" are already ready "ripe for harvest."  This was dramatically and literally true at the moment that Jesus was talking here to His disciples, for as we will see in the following verses, villagers probably wearing white garments were coming to Him to find out whether or not He was the Messiah.  Soon, His disciples would participate as these spiritually hungry souls willingly became part of God's kingdom through believing that Jesus is the Messiah.

"Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.'"  A principle in life is that most everything that a person accomplishes is really the work of many.  The quarterback on the football team often gets the credit for a victory, but the humble quarterback will give credit to the whole team.  He knows that it was not a one man effort, but a team effort.  But, even then, there are many more whose work led to that victory—the coaches, the trainers, parents, friends, and many more.  When we have the great privilege of leading someone to the Lord, we are benefitting from so many people's efforts—the parents' or relatives' prayers, those who wrote the Bible, those in the Bible whose lives are described for us, godly Christians' testimonies, faithful Sunday School teachers who taught them as a child, and the list goes on.  They could have heard something on Christian radio, read a Christian book, or watched a Christian movie.  Then, we happen to be there when that person is ready to receive the gospel—we are there to harvest the hard work of others.  The sowing has been done for us; we are there to reap the results of their efforts.  Here, Jesus could have been referring to the work of John the Baptist and His disciples.

Jesus' message to us here is that there are two stages in evangelism.  The first stage is the sowing.  This is often a thankless stage of preparing the soil and sowing the seed.  It is the stage in which we try to live a godly life before those who do not know Jesus; we pray for them; and we unashamedly testify of our faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son.  The second stage is to actually share the gospel message and invite someone to enter into an eternal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Next, Jesus teaches here that today is the time to sow and is also the time to reap the harvest of others' work.  We are to be continually busy both with sowing and reaping the harvest, for it is always the time for both sowing and harvesting.  This is the work that was Jesus' food; and it is to be our food as well.

"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers."  Many have had the great privilege of being with people who have just begun to have a hunger for God.  They remind me of a mother bird returning to her nest full of new babies who have their mouths wide open eagerly desiring the food she has returned with.  Jesus and the disciples experienced this eagerness to believe and eagerness to learn from Him and them.  When we are reaching out regularly to people, we will also come in contact with people who have this type of eagerness to learn.  Through the years, I have had this experience many times from my conversion in the late 60s to the present time.  This last week in a church service I lead in the local jail, there were those who regularly attend who are eagerly seeking God to enable them to turn their lives around.

"They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'The harvest continued as "many more became believers."  The Samaritans of this woman's village believed that Jesus "really is the Savior of the world."  Their belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah was a message not just for the Samaritans in this tiny village so many years ago, but it was a message of salvation that soon would be shared throughout the whole world.  It is also a message of salvation for all people today, and it is still to be shared throughout the whole world. See Matthew 28:18-20  Ultimately, Jesus did send his early apostles and followers out to share the gospel with the whole world.  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) See Acts 8:4-17; I John 4:14

7. Jesus heals a royal official's son—a lesson on faith. (4:43-54)
"After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there. Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. 'Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,' Jesus told him, 'you will never believe.' The royal official said, 'Sir, come down before my child dies.' Jesus replied, 'You may go. Your son will live.' The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, 'The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.' Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, 'Your son will live.' So he and all his household believed. This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee."

Thought Question #1:  What do we learn from this account about how God creates a need in people to hear the gospel message? (Who has come to you with a need for the gospel, who was like this "royal official"?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do learn about faith from this "royal official"?

 

 

"After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.One of the most common questions that Christians ask is, "How can I know God's will for my life?"  In these three verses, what can we learn about how Jesus knew the Father's will for His life?  What is said in these verses appears to be full of contradictions.  It is stated that "a prophet has no honor in his own country," and yet Jesus goes to His home region of Galilee.  Then, we are told "the Galileans welcomed him" because "they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem."  It sounds like they were honoring Him.  In Luke, it says the following:  "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him." (Luke 4:14-15)  But, later, the response to Him was quite different, after He taught them from the Scriptures that He was the Messiah.  "All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way." (Luke 4:28-30)  Matthew gives a similar report to what was said in Luke.  "When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. 'Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?' they asked. 'Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?' And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, 'Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.' And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." (Matthew 13:53-58)

He had just experienced a warm response in Samaria.  Even though the people of Galilee would be excited about the miracles they had seen Him perform, He knew there would not be the type of openness to Him that He had experienced in Samaria.  There is a large difference between people being excited about miracles and people being humbly receptive to the gospel message.  "Outward enthusiasm for  selfish purposes is not honor." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

Why, then, did Jesus not stay in Samaria where there was an excited openness to the gospel?  Why did He go to Galilee where He knew he would not receive the same type of openness to who He was?  There is a teaching that says that we are to seek to discover where God is moving and join Him there.  Here, Jesus Himself did not follow this pattern.  He goes from a place where people are excited to learn about Him to a place where he would be not be honored.

If we follow the pattern of going where God is moving, we can go from church to church following where it appears that God is moving.  But, there is a need for faithful servants of the Lord who labor in Sunday School classes of children, even when at that moment God does not seem to be moving.  Jesus had a mission to complete even in a region that was not at that moment as receptive to Him as the Samaritans had been.  Why, then, did Jesus go to a place where He would be less honored?  Hendriksen offers this explanation: He could minister where He would not gain so much honor so that He would postpone becoming so great a threat to the Pharisees that they would be forced to arrest Him immediately it would postpone His arrest and death until God's chosen time.  It would not "bring him into immediate collision with the Pharisees, creating a premature crisis." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

We think so differently than Jesus did and does.  We want to go only where we are honored, not to where we are not honored.  To Jesus, the Father's will was most important, not His own popularity.  John the Baptist was not a people pleaser when he confronted Herod and lost his life over it. See Matthew 4:1-12; Mark 6:14-20  Stephen was not a people pleaser when He confronted the religious leaders of Israel and lost his life over it. See Acts 7  Jesus was not a people pleaser when He went to Galilee.  We learn from Jesus that following God's will can lead us to where we will not be received well and even to a place where the gospel message is rejected.  It was God's will that Isaiah and Jeremiah tell Israel the truth even though Israel would not want to hear what they had to say. See Isaiah 6:9-10; Jeremiah 1:17-19; Ezekiel 2:3-8  We are to be faithful even if that means in men's eyes, we are not successful.

"Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death." Because this nobleman was in great need because his son was near death, he came to the miracle-working son of a carpenter.  It was about 20 miles from Capernaum to Cana.  Would he have come to Him to become a follower of Jesus the Messiah without his great need or without the miracles?  We cannot know the answer to that question, but the answer is probably "No!"  But do any of us come to Jesus with totally pure motives and without something creating a great need in our lives?

"begged him to come"  The verb tense (present tense) indicates that he begged and begged Jesus to come and heal his son.  He was desperate and his need was greater than his pride.  His need brought this man who was part of royalty to humbly ask this common carpenter's son for help.  It is like some English nobleman so humbled by a great need that he or she humbly begs and begs a humble worker for help.

"'Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,' Jesus told him, 'you will never believe.'"  "Verse 48 was not a rebuke of this nobleman ["you people" is a plural "you"].  Rather, it was our Lord's lament at the spiritual condition of the people in general, both in Judea and Galilee.  'Seeing is believing' has always been the 'pragmatic' philosophy of the lost world, even the religious world." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."  "Jesus is affirming that people, such as the man who had come to Him were lacking that deep trustful attachment which is of the essence of faith.  They looked for the spectacular, and were linked to Him only by a love for the sensational." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  Years ago, I went to a Kathryn Kuhlman healing meeting at a church building that held 12,000.  The building was overflowing with people so much so that I was only able to see what was taking place on a television screen in a downstairs' hallway.  People will always be drawn to the hope of the spectacular.  Jesus was saddened that people were drawn to Him not so that they could get to know God, but because they wanted to see miracles.

"The royal official said, 'Sir, come down before my child dies.' Jesus replied, 'You may go. Your son will live.' The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, 'The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.' Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, 'Your son will live.' So he and all his household believed."  Jesus asks this "royal official" to believe in His power and authority without actually seeing the miracle taking place.  This man did take Jesus at His word and left for Capernaum without Jesus.  The fact that his servants who met him on the way told him that his child was healed "yesterday," indicates that he actually took the trip on the next day.

Did he believe that his son had been healed before he learned that he was healed or did he only hope that he had been healed?  He was undoubtedly like all of us—his faith was mixed with some uncertainty.  But the next day, when he "met" "his servants" on the way back home, he learned that his son had been healed at "the exact time" Jesus had said, "Your son will live."

"The seventh hour" in Jewish time would have been 1 p.m. in the afternoon.  If it were Roman time, it would have been 7 p.m. in the evening.

As a result, " he and all his household believed."  He had trusted Jesus even without seeing his son healed.  Now, he had seen that Jesus is trustworthy, so "he and all his household" placed their faith in Jesus.  Now, there became those in the royalty of that time who believed in Jesus.  This "royal official" may have been part of King Herod's officials.  He may even be mentioned in Acts 13:1:  "In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul."

There were other times that Jesus healed from a distance.  He healed the servant of a centurion and a Canaanite woman's daughter from a distance. See Matthew 8:5-13 and 15:21-28

"This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.When Jesus returned from Judea at a previous time, He turned water into wine. see 2;1-11  Here, He returned "from Judea" and performed a second miracle in "Galilee."  It was not the second miracle He performed, as He performed many miracles in Judea. See 2:23, 3:1-2
8. Jesus heals a paralytic—Jesus' compassion versus the religious leaders' cold-heartedness (5:1-15)

a. Jesus' compassion (5:1-9a)
"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?' 'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.' At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked."

Thought Question:  Why do you think Jesus asked him: "Do you want to get well?"

 

 

"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?'"

"Some scholars needlessly put chapter 5 after chapter 6 because in chapter 6 Jesus is in Galilee as at the end of chapter 4.  But surely it is not incongruous to think of Jesus making a visit to Jerusalem before the events of chapter 6."  "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  All we know about when this took place is John's words here that it took place "some time later" and at "a feast for the Jews."

"Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades."  Much information is given by John about the identity of this "pool."  It is "near the Sheep Gate."  This gate is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:1: "Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate . . . " See 3:32, 12:39  "It was known in NT times (Jn 5:2) as located near the Bethesda Pool (in the Northeast corner of Jerusalem." "NIV Study Bible note on Nehemiah 3:1"  "The site is generally identified with the twin pools near the present-day Saint Anne's church." "NIV Study Bible note on this verse in John."

The pool was "called Bethesda."  While attending seminary, I worked at a mental hospital called, "Bethesda."  It was named after this "pool."  "Bethesda" means "house of mercy."

"Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed."  The NIV and more recent translations do not contain the rest of verse three and verse four found in the King James Version because the words in these verses are not found in the oldest and therefore the most trusted manuscripts.  It appears that someone in later years added these words to explain why those needy people were lying by this pool.  Here is what is not found in the oldest manuscripts: "waiting for the moving of the water.  For an angel went down at a
certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatever disease he had." (KJV)  This may have been a superstition of those who were lying by the pool.  We will see that the lame man that Jesus talks to believed that getting into the water when "the water is stirred" would lead to his healing. (5:7)

"One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?'"  John does not say that he had been at this "pool" "for thirty-eight years," but that he " had been an invalid for thirty-eight years." 

"and learned" The Greek word is ginosko which is usually translated "know."  The KJV, ESV, and NASV translate it as "knew."  "John does not say how Jesus knew of the length of time the man had suffered." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

"'Do you want to get well?'"  This question might surprise us, for doesn't every sick person want to be well?  But, it is an appropriate question to ask someone with a chronic illness.  For example, a person may be receiving financial support because he or she is an invalid.  Does he or she "want to get well" and lose this financial support?  Some may answer, "Yes!"  But others may feel so comfortable in their lifestyle that they do not want to get well.  As I look back on many years of ministry, I realize that there are some who did not really want to change.  They were sadly comfortable in a state of indolence and self-pity or in a state of pride and selfish-ambition.

"'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.'"  At this "pool," it appears that they did not help each other—every person needed to fend for himself or herself.  This man had not experienced someone actually caring about him and really wanting to help him in his sad condition.  This is what is true in many parts of the world.  The truly needy often suffer by themselves.  It is the compassion of Jesus Christ expressed through loving Christians that has touched the lives of millions through the years through the establishment of hospitals and clinics, the sending out of missionaries and medical professionals, the operation of rescue missions, and such organizations as World Vision and Samaritan's Purse.  Years ago, it was Jesus Himself reaching out to this lame man.

"when the water is stirred"  We do not know what "stirred" "the water."  It could have been an angel or it may have simply been the periodic movement of water from a spring beneath the "pool." 

We notice that this man did not know that Jesus could heal him.  He only saw Him as someone who might be able to help him get to the water more quickly "when the water" was "stirred," so that he could be the first there and be the one that was healed.

"Then Jesus said to him, 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.' At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked."  The man was immediately and completely cured.  Although I have gone to meetings where supposed healers have come, I have never seen a miracle of this nature—an immediate and complete healing that was easily observed.  In our city, a pastor's daughter was abducted.  The community immediately began to pray for her safety.  I can remember exactly where I was when I prayed for her.  She was found face down in water.  She recovered after some time in the hospital.  It was a wonderful answer to prayer, but it was not an immediate and complete healing like the one performed here by Jesus.

There is also nothing that says that this man had faith that Jesus was the Son of God and could heal him.  Jesus healed him without him having any faith that he could be healed.  He did believe that he was healed, though; for after he was healed, he obeyed Jesus and "picked up his mat and walked."

b. The religious leaders cold-heartedness (5:9b-11)
"The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, 'It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.' But he replied, 'The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that it was okay for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath and okay for this man to pick up and carry "his mat"?

 

 

"The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, 'It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.' But he replied, 'The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”'"  "The Jews" is a derogatory term that John used to single out the legalistic "Jews."  Tenney, in his  outline of John, titles chapters  5:1-6:71, "The Period of Controversy."  This negative response to the man carrying his "mat" on the "Sabbath" is the first sign of opposition to Jesus.  Why would anyone be opposed to Jesus compassionately healing a lame man?  A simple answer is that these "Jews" ruled the religious world of Jesus' time and they resented anyone breaking their rules.  And healing and carrying one's "mat" on the Sabbath broke their rules.  Also, they were undoubtedly jealous that Jesus was becoming more popular than they were.

But, did not God forbid work on the "Sabbath"?  Is not the Bible clear on this?  Let's look at what is taught in the Old Testament about the Sabbath.  "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates." (Exodus 20:8-10)  "This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers." (Jeremiah 17:21-22)  "In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day." (Nehemiah 13:15)  Were not, then, "the Jews" accurate in telling this man that he should not carry his mat on "the Sabbath"?

What was not to take place on "the Sabbath" was man's labor for commerce and self-gain.  The spirit of "the Sabbath" was that Israel was to rest from this type of work and focus on one's relationship with God.  It was for man's own good that "the Sabbath" was given to Israel.  These religious lawyers were not interested in the good of this man, but were offended that he was breaking their rules.  "The Jews" had meticulous details about when one was working on the Sabbath and when one was not.  "The Rabbis of Jesus's day solemnly argued that a man was sinning if he carried a needle in his robe on the Sabbath.  They even argued as to whether he could wear artificial teeth or his wooden leg.  They were quite clear that any kind of brooch could not be worn on the Sabbath.  To them all this petty detail was a matter of life and death." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

God had forbidden work on "the Sabbath."  What, then, is work and what is not work?  This is where the religious lawyers came in.  They determined, for example, how many dried figs you could carry before it became work.  If you carried one too many dried figs, you were breaking "the Sabbath."  This is called focusing on the letter of the law and not on the spirit of the law.  "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Corinthians 3:6)  The spirit of the law is found in Exodus 23:12:  "Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed."

"The Jews" obviously were not in harmony with the Spirit of God, for God's Spirit led Jesus when He healed this man and God's Spirit led Him when He commanded him to pick up his "mat" and "walk."  These same men would throw out their laws when they tried and crucified Jesus.  Jesus's trial at night broke their own rules; and, of course, sentencing an innocent to death was entirely unlawful for them to do.  They, obviously, were out of touch with God in all that they did.  In Matthew 23, Jesus exposes both the evil that was in their hearts and their hypocrisy.  "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" (Matthew 23:33) See Matthew 23:1-36  These men were focused not on the plight of the needy and on how to help them, but they were focused on their rules and whether or not each person was obeying them.  Where is our focus?  Are we focused on the needs of men and woman or on how we can minister to them or are we focused on whether or not others are measuring up to our standards and obeying our rules?

c. Jesus' warning to the lame man (5:12-15)
"So they asked him, 'Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?' The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, 'See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.' The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well."

The man who was healed had no idea who it was who had healed him, "for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there."  "Notice that their [the religious leaders] reaction is not, 'How marvelous!  Who is this man who can heal people?  Tell us where can we find this miracle worker.  No, their reaction is, 'Who's the wise guy whose telling you it's okay to disobey one of our regulations?'" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

"Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, 'See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.'"  Jesus appears to be saying that his physical disability was somehow tied to some sin in his life.Jesus was not only concerned for this man's physical needs, but he was also concerned about the state of his soul and his spiritual condition. See also 8:11

For example, in our society, many physical problems are caused by alcohol and drug abuse.  We do not know what the sin of this man was, but the way that Jesus talked to him infers that the man knew exactly what Jesus was talking about.  Jesus warns him that if he continues in this form of sin, it could become even worse for him.  Jesus is not saying, though, that all sickness is caused by sin. See 9:1-3  Job's sickness, for example was not caused by sin. See Job 2:7

"The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.Why did this man immediately report to "the Jews" who it was that had "made him well"?  "The man was either ungrateful and willfully betrayed Jesus or he was incompetent and did not know that he was bringing trouble on his benefactor.  In either case one has small respect for him."  "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  It is most likely that he was afraid of being punished for working on "the Sabbath" and he is seeking to clear himself by pointing out the exact man who told him to pick up his mat.  But, to the man's credit, he does not emphasize that Jesus told him to pick up his mat, but that He "made him well."

9. Jesus responds to his religious critics. (5:16-47)

a. Jesus works on the Sabbath as His Father works on the Sabbath. (5:16-18)
"So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.  Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.' For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe that Jesus' defense of His healing was a good defense?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is a similar charge that could be made against a Christian today that would also be a false charge?

 

 

"So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him."  Were they loving toward Jesus and only understandably concerned about protecting their country from a law-breaker?  In other words, were they like the parent who says, "This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you," before he or she spanks his or her child?  No, they were religious people who did not want anyone to show up, even God, and remove them from their throne in Israel.  "Their real grudge against Jesus was that He was taking away their power." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  The Jewish religious leaders saw Jesus as one who was attempting to usurp their throne.  They undoubtedly believed that they were doing what God wanted them to do, and that being in control of their religious realm was their right.  But, when God showed up, they revealed that self-interest was their real motive.  We need to ask ourselves how we would respond if we were looked upon as spiritual leaders and God showed up and He was receiving more attention than we were receiving?  Is there any Pharisee in us?  Also, if someone points out that we are not adhering to God's standards, will we go before God and ask Him what He wants us to do or will we quickly resent that anyone is challenging our authority?

"Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.' For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."  They saw Him as a rebel against God.  He says that He is the opposite of a rebel—He only does what the "Father" wants Him to do.  Simply put, because of Jesus' unique relationship to the "Father" as His only Son and because His heart was always completely in agreement with the "Father," what Jesus chose to do on "the Sabbath" was always according to the "Father's" will and was, therefore, always perfectly okay to do on "the Sabbath." 

In Mark 2:27-28, Jesus defends his disciples for gleaning in the fields on "the Sabbath."   "Then he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.'"  Therefore, that which is in man's best interest is okay to do on "the Sabbath."  Jesus healing a man was what was best for the man that was healed, and the "Father" was pleased that Jesus healed him on "the Sabbath."  The religious leaders should have been pleased also.  But, they were not interested in what was best for the man, but what was best for them!

Jesus' response made them even angrier; for now, they concluded, He was "making Himself equal with God"—which is exactly who He was and is. 

In the Lord's prayer, we are taught to say, "Our Father."  But only Jesus could say, "My Father," describing that He had a unique relationship with the "Father."  His Son relationship with the  "Father" means that He is God.  Because the "Father" does not stop being compassionate on "the Sabbath," so His Son does not stop being compassionate on "the Sabbath."

"For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him;"  It is hard for us to imagine a religious person desiring to kill someone, yet in the Middle Ages religious people regularly killed those in opposition to them. Foxe's Book of Martyrs describes those who were murdered by religious people simply because they sought to be biblical. See 7:1,19,25, 8:37,40 for other times when we are told that Jesus' enemies sought to kill Him.  See 10:31-33 for another time they wanted to kill Him because He claimed to be God.  See also 19:7

b. The union between the Father and the Son (5:19-23)
"Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.'"

Thought Question:  How does Jesus relationship with the Father give us insight into how we can have a close relationship with the Father?

 

 

Jesus does not mean here that some of what He did was because the "Father" wanted Him to do it; He means that everything He did was because the "Father" wanted Him to do it.  This clearly is Jesus' meaning in 5:19:  "Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'If anyone said these words, he or she would immediately be challenged.  As someone has said, because of these types of words that Jesus said, He was either a liar, a lunatic, or He was Lord.

Some today take these verses and conclude that we need to investigate to determine what God is doing and where He is moving and then go to that spot, even if it is in another city.  But, I suggest that the biblical pattern is to discover God's ways and get involved in seeking after His type of lifestyle and His type of service wherever you might be is a better application of this teaching.  Ray
Stedman finds some very important principles for Christian service in these verses.  He calls them "steps to power."  First of all, " the Son can do nothing by himself."  Jesus also applies this principle to us in John 15:5: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Just like Jesus, we are not to act independently or self-sufficiently.  Just as Jesus acted in dependence on "the Father," so we are to live our life in dependence on "the Father."  Jesus could only do what He saw "his Father doing."  Ray Stedman sees this as the "secret to seeing God's power released in our lives . . . Nothing comes from me, everything comes from God." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." Paul taught this same principle.  "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)  "To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." (Colossians 1:29)  "and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, . . ." (Ephesians 1:19-20)

I will add another part to this first step.   "Because whatever the Father does the Son also does.Our lives are to be continually lived in dependence on God.  "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18)  "Filled" is in the present tense and means that we are to be continually "filled."

Ray Stedman's second step to power is found in 5:20:  "For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.Jesus was continually looking to "the Father" for revelation from Him for all that He did in His life.  So, we are to be continually learning from God.  We are to learn about His ways, His wisdom, His perspective, and His direction for our lives.  James tells us that God loves to give us His wisdom. See James 1:2-8  But we must ask with a wholehearted desire to hear it, even if it is not exactly what we want to hear.  The Bible is the primary vehicle that God uses to teach us His ways.  We need to be careful to compare all that we believe is coming from Him with the Bible so that we will not be fooled by our enemy.  Remember, Satan used the Scripture in tempting Jesus, but he distorted its teaching.  He still does that today.

Ray Stedman's third step is found at the end of 5:20: "Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.God's work in us will awaken "amazement" in those who witness it.  God's power will reveal God's power and goodness to others.  The first Christians were "enjoying the favor of all people."  The world at that time was amazed at God's work in the lives of Christians.  "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)  May the power and goodness of God in our lives have the same type of impact on those in our corner of the world.

"he will show him even greater things than these."  In John 14:10-12, Jesus clearly states that the miracles that He performed were the works of "the Father."  Then, Jesus promises that His followers would do even greater works.  "Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  What are the "greater things"?  I believe that it ultimately is the miraculous new birth of millions around the world throughout time plus all that God has done in response to our prayers and will do in response to our future prayers.  Look at the next verses in John 14:  "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:13-14)  The next verse in John 5 also supports this interpretation.

"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.Jesus would raise people from physical death. See Matthew 9:18, 22-26, 11:5: Luke 7:11-17; John 11:38-44  But, Jesus is ultimately predicting the miraculous resurrection of millions from spiritual death to spiritual life.   In fact, the physical resurrections performed by Jesus demonstrated Jesus' power to raise someone from spiritual death to spiritual life.  We will see in 5:24-27 that Jesus is speaking here primarily of spiritual death and resurrection from spiritual death to eternal life, for in these verses Jesus goes on to speak in detail about a resurrection from spiritual death to eternal life.  This resurrection to spiritual life will also ultimately result in resurrection from physical death to His type of eternal life. See 5:28-30

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.Today, there are those who say that they honor God, but do not give Jesus an equal place of honor.  These verses teach us that if we do not honor Jesus, we do not "honor the Father who sent him."  One reason why we should "honor the Son" is that in the past it was determined by "the Father" that our future judgment would be administered by His Son.  "Entrusted" is in the perfect tense which indicates that this determination by "the Father" that Jesus will be our judge was made in the past and continues to be true today. See 5:27; Matthew 24:31-46

c. Believing in the Son=life; not believing in the Son=judgment.    (5:24-30)
"'I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.'"

Thought Question:  What effect will Jesus' words here have on those who truly believe them? (What effect, for example, will it have on what we will seek after?)

 

 

"'I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.'"  This verse is interpreted differently by Christian Bible teachers from different schools of theology.  Those from a Calvinistic point of view teach that the reason that some believe is that they already have "eternal life" present in them—"has eternal life," to them, means that the people referred to here already have "eternal life" and that is why they are able believe.  Others say that Jesus is saying here that when we believe in Him, we at that moment receive "eternal life."  The issue is, do we believe because God has chosen us—our choice follows God's choosing of us and giving us the new birth which, then, enables us to believe?  Or do we choose to believe in Him and then we are immediately born again?  Each side has his or her verses and interpretation of verses to back up his or her viewpoint.  It is an issue that will probably never be resolved among Christians.  My personal conclusion is based on one of the first words of this verse—"whoever.Jesus died for every man and woman, and "whoever" will may come to Him.  The following chapter is even more of a battleground for those on both sides of this issue.

"whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me."  You have certainly had experiences where you were talking, but it was obvious that what you were saying was not being heard.  You may, for example, be sharing your political viewpoint.  That person that you are talking to obviously does not agree with you and is not favorably hearing what you are saying.  This is why, though Jesus was talking to many, only a few really heard what he had to say.  Only a few had a heart's desire to hear what He had to say.  "Whoever" heard Him with a receptive heart were also those who chose to believe in Him.  "Godlessness" is a word that describes those who do not want there to be a God; they do not want there to be a God that they are accountable to.  They desire that there be "no God."  The godless rejected Jesus then and the godless reject Jesus today.  There were those then who had come to a place where they were willing to hear what Jesus had to say.  They became believers and received God's "eternal life."

A large theme of the Gospel of John is "life" and "eternal life."  "In him was life, and that life was the light of men." (John 1:4)  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)  "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it." (John 5:21)  "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" (John 6:35)  ". . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)  "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;'" (John 11:25)  "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)

"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live."  If this verse refers to how the spiritually dead receive eternal life, then the issue stated earlier as to which comes first regeneration or belief is forever settled.  "The dead" "hear the voice of the Son of God" and then they "live." 

Ray Stedman believed, and I believe, that Jesus was speaking here of the spiritually "dead" and predicting what would take place on "the Day of Pentecost."  "This is a clear reference to the Day of Pentecost, to the new thing that would happen when the Spirit of God would come in a new, fresh way and the gift of eternal life would be given to Jews and Gentiles alike." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

Further support for this view that Jesus is speaking of the spiritually dead is that Jesus says here that this time is not only going to happen in the future, but it "has now come."  "It was already happening during Jesus' earthly ministry." "Stedman"  The spiritually dead in Samaria had just truly heard Him and believed He was the Messiah and those who believed in Him had received "eternal life."  The Bible describes man as spiritually dead.  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins," (Ephesians 2:1)  But when we believe we go from spiritual death to spiritual life.  "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

"For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself."  God's "eternal" quality of "life" is what is missing in a fallen man's life.  We have physical life, but God's spiritual "life" is absent.  "The Father" "has granted the Son" to make this "eternal" type of "life" available to all who believe in "the Son."  "In him was life . . ." (John 1:4)

"And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man."  This is one of the many times that Jesus refers to Himself as "the Son of Man." See 1:51, 3:13-14, 5:27, 6:27,53,62, 8:28, 9:35, 12:23,34, 13:31, Matthew 8:20, 12:8,32,40, 16:13,27-28, 17:9; Mark 2:10, 3:28, 8:31  It is the title given for the Messiah in Daniel 7:13-14: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."  Part of the authority given to "the Son of Man" by the "Ancient of Days"—another name for "the Father"—was that Jesus has all "authority to judge."
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."  Jesus, here, states that the ultimate "authority" given to Him by "the Father" is to call the dead from "their graves," those who have "done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."  This final judgment of Jesus will be a time when He will reward "good" by giving life to all of us who have believed on Him, and He will punish the "evil" done by unbelievers.  The Jews were not surprised that God would judge men (see Daniel 12:2), but they were certainly astonished that this man Jesus was claiming that he would be the One that would be doing the judging.  So, Jesus says, "do not be amazed." 
The Bible describes this final judgment in a number of places.  There will be a judgment of those who reject the gospel. See Revelation 20:11-15; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:1-11,16  And rewards will be given to those who have received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. See I Corinthians 3:12-15; II Corinthians 5:9-10
Many do not believe in life after death.  Jesus, here, states that He will call people from the graves.  And each of us will stand before Him after our death.  "Before 1492 Spanish coins often showed the straits of Gibraltar with a Latin inscription ne plus ultra.  It meant 'no more beyond.'  So far as men knew, the western end of the Mediterranean Sea, marked by the straits of Gibraltar, was the end of land.  In that year, however, Columbus discovered the coast of America across the great sea.  When he returned from his voyages the coins that had been in circulation were reissued, but now they bore the inscription plus ultra, 'more beyond." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Jesus, here, says: plus ultra, "More beyond!"  Beyond death each of us will stand before Him as our judge.

"those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."  In our world, many smugly sneer at Christians and our faith in God.  But a time is coming when they will learn in great fear that the One they have sneered at is the Lord of all.

"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.'Jesus answers a charge that his enemies would certainly make against Him before they had a chance to make it.  He is not going to judge men at this time based on His independent standards.  He will judge men in complete dependence on the standards that His "Father" reveals to Him.  He will be in perfect unity with "the Father" when He judges all men.  "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son," (John 5:22)   "And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." (John 5:27)  He is able to judge in a fair way, for He is both God and man.  We can never say that He did not understand what we go through—He went through it also.

d. Those that have testified that Jesus is God's Son and the Son of Man (5:31-47)

(1) The Father testified that Jesus is the Son. (5:31-32)
"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid."

Thought Question:  Who do you believe that Jesus is talking about here whose "testimony" "is valid"?

 

 

"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid."
Because Jesus had directed a man to pick up his mat and carry it on the Sabbath, He had riled up animosity against Him among the Jewish religious leaders. An obvious question in the mind of His enemies that Jesus is responding to is, "Who do you think that you are?"  "Who gives you the right to ignore our authority?"  Jesus continues in these verses to tell them who He is.  He is the unique Son of God who is doing all that He does in complete agreement with "the Father's" will.  Also, one day he will judge all men—which includes the religious leaders who were upset at Him.  Is there any evidence that He is who He claimed to be?  They did not receive his testimony about Himself as being "valid."  Beginning in these verses, He lists the witnesses who support His claim for Himself.  He states here that if He alone testifies about Himself, His "testimony is not valid."  In the Old Testament, it is stated that two witnesses are required to bring a charge against someone. "On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness." (Deuteronomy 17:6)  "One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." (Deuteronomy 19:15) See II Corinthians 13:1; I Timothy 5:19

In verse 31, Jesus states that if He alone "testifies" for Himself, His "testimony is not valid."  But, His "testimony" is not alone, for "the Father" also "testifies" for Him and "the Father's" "testimony is valid."  The primary witness that Jesus is God's Son is "the Father" of the Son.  If someone claims to be the Governor's son, who would be the best witness to "testify" that he was indeed the Governor's son?  The Governor would be the main witness.  He would say, "Yes, this is my son."  So, the main witness that Jesus is the Son of God is His "Father."  "Testifies" is in the present tense, indicating that "the Father" continuously "testifies" that Jesus is His Son. 

Jesus appears to be saying, as Hendriksen concludes, that His "testimony is not valid" in their estimation.  His testimony, though, was and is completely "valid."  "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' The Pharisees challenged him, 'Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.' Jesus answered, 'Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.'" (John 8:12-14)

"There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.Who is John speaking about here?  At first glance, we could read these words in conjunction with the following verses and conclude that He is speaking of John the Baptist, for He speaks of John the Baptist in the next verses.  But I believe that He is speaking of His "Father."  Certainly, God the Father's "testimony about" Jesus "is valid."  "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3:17)  "But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me." (John 8:16-18) See also 5:36-37   

(2) John the Baptist testified that Jesus is the Son of God (5:33-35)
"'You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.'The Father is the One who provided Jesus with the testimony of "John" the Baptist.  Luke describes how an angel foretold the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth who was past the age of child-bearing.  When she became pregnant, she said: "The Lord has done this for me." (Luke 1:25)  Zechariah, John the Baptist's father, learned that his son John would "be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth." (Luke 1:15)  So John the Baptist was prepared by Jesus' Father in heaven to be a witness that Jesus is God's unique Son.  "He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe." (John 1:7)  "'I baptize with water,' John replied, 'but among you stands one you do not know.  He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'" (John 1:26-27)  "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" (John 1:29)  "The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the Lamb of God!'" (John 1:35-36)

"enjoy his light."  John the Baptist was an exciting and interesting spectacle to them for a while.  Just as people were drawn to Jesus' miracles, that did not mean that they turned to Him as the Son of God.  The nation of Israel was drawn to John the Baptist, but it did not mean that there was a national revival leading to the whole nation turning back to God.

(3) Jesus testifies He is God's Son. (5:36)
"'I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.'"

Thought Question #1: What do you believe is the "work [or "the works"] that the Father" gave Jesus "to finish"?

 

 

"'I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.'The KJV, NASB, and the ESV all have "works" where the NIV has "work."  "For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing." (ESV)  The "works" appears to refer to His miraculous "works." See 2:23, 3:2, 10:25-26, 12:37, 14:11, 15:24  "'If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.'" (John 10:37-38, ESV)

(4) The Bible testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. (5:37-40)
"And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe it is possible for someone to "diligently study the Scriptures" and yet never come to know God? (What, then, is their motivation for studying the Bible?)

 

 

"And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent."  Before them stood God's Son and God "the Father" supernaturally "testified" that Jesus was God's Son through the miracles the Father enabled the Son to perform.  Yet, they did not recognize that the Son of God was standing before them and that the words He was speaking to them were God's own words to them.  Why were they not seeing and hearing God?  It was because of what Jesus says in verse 40: "You refuse to come to me to have life.

"You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,"  "The hostile Jews have failed to see in Jesus the voice and the form of God.  The had failed through unbelief." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  "Jesus answered: 'Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.'" (John 14:9-11)

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.The key to finding what God wants us to know is not just reading the Bible but also having a heart's desire to get to know what God wants us to know in the Bible.  There are many Bible scholars whose hearts are hardened toward God.  When one truly understands the Bible, he or she will be convicted of sin, he or she will become aware of his or her great need for God's grace, and he or she will gain a deep hearted desire for a Savior.  The Jewish religious leaders "diligently" studied the Bible and only saw others' sins.  They did not see their own need for God's grace.  Paul describes them in the book of Romans.  "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: 'God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'" (Romans 2:17-24)  "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." (Romans 2:1)  As Paul says in I Corinthians: "knowledge puffs up"; whereas, true knowledge of the Bible will humble us.

All through the Bible, it speaks of the Jews' hardness of heart.  "They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry." (Zechariah 7:12)  "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 7:51)  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37)

"that testify about me,"  The Old Testament "Scriptures" describe man's sin and also point to a Savior.  The Bible predicts that this Savior would die for our sin (see Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 for an example), be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2), be born of a virgin (see Isaiah 7:14), be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (see Zechariah 11:13), be rejected by His disciples (see Zechariah 13:7), rise from the dead (see Psalm 16:10), and many other predictions that all point to Jesus Christ.  Why did they not see that Jesus was the Messiah predicted in the Bible?  Jesus gave the answer to this question: "You refuse to come to me to have life.In short, they did not, for selfish reasons, want to believe in Him.

(4) They did not believe because they did not have the love of God. (5:41-47)
"I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 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 can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?'"

Thought Question #1:  How can we recognize when we are more interested in "praise from men" than "the praise that comes from the only God"? (How can we tell if we "do not have the love of God in" our heart?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Who do you believe Jesus is referring to who will come "in his own name"?

 

 

"I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.Why does Jesus "not accept praise from men"?  It is because this is what primarily motivates us people—we are selfishly motivated to seek men's "praise."  The young inner city gang member wants the gang to be impressed with him, so he does what he thinks will give him a high status in the gang.  The university professor desires to have a high status in the university, so he seeks after that which will achieve him or her this status.  In every field, men and women labor to be praised by men.  Men and women typically seek praise from men rather than seek what will lead to God being pleased with them.  Jesus was not interested in men's "praise," but He desired to only do that which pleased His Father.  The application to us is obvious.  Do we focus on that which will bring men's praise or that which will please God?

". . . you do not have the love of God in your hearts.The reason that Jesus did not seek "praise from men" is that He knew that most men "do not have the love of God in" their "hearts.Should we try to please men, if men are not interested in what pleases God?  The problem is obvious, though; for when we try to please God above all, we often offend men who "do not have the love of God in" their "hearts."  That is exactly what was happening here, Jesus was pleasing His Father by exposing the Jewish leaders' true motives, but He is also at the same time offending these men.  Just prior to Jesus' death, He was even more pointed in exposing these leaders' hypocrisy.  "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'" (Matthew 23:5-7)  "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." (Matthew 23:13)  Jesus clearly did not seek "praise from men." See I Thessalonians 2:6; Luke 11:37-54

"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."  Jesus came in accordance with the prophesies about Him in the Old Testament.  He performed miracles, He was sinless, and He was compassionate; but He was rejected and was not accepted for being who He was by the nation of Israel and its leaders.  This rejection became obvious when He was on the cross.  But another will come as a deceiver and men will receive him.  I believe that Jesus is speaking here of the Antichrist.  "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)  Before this final deceiver comes, there have been many false messiahs who have come, and there will be many more false messiahs who will come.  "Jesus answered: 'Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.'" (Matthew 24:4-5)

Why is it that men receive false messiahs and reject the true Messiah?  False messiahs, false prophets, and false teachers appeal to the selfish side of us—they offer riches, prideful achievement, and exhilarating experiences; whereas Jesus offers us a cross and a selfless and sacrificial style of life.

"How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?"  What is it that will gain the "praise that comes from" God?  We find the answer in Micah 6:6-8:  "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." See also Isaiah 1:17; Hosea 6:6; Zechariah 7:9-10; Hebrews 11:6; James 1:27, 4:6

The Jewish legalistic leaders sought to do that which gained "praise" from men.  Jesus describes their efforts to gain man's praise in the Sermon on the Mount:  "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:1-2)  "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:5)  "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:16)

"'But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?'The Jews prided themselves in their knowledge of the Scriptures, but they did not understand the message of the Bible because they did not love God.  They also prided themselves that they were followers of the great lawgiver Moses.  They put their hope in the belief that they were obedient to Moses' teachings.  But Moses was not standing with them, instead he was opposed to them; for they were not like Moses—he was humbled by what he learned from God but they became puffed up by their knowledge.  The law's purpose is to humble us by exposing that our unholy heart is not at all like God's holy law.  "Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:16)  "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.'" (Galatians 3:10)  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:19-20)  "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." (James 2:10)  Moses was humbled; the Jewish religious leaders become arrogant.  Paul gave the following description of what they were like: ". . . if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth . . ." (Romans 2:19-20)

Moses would have been deeply saddened by how these Jewish religious leaders had twisted God's law given to him by God until they thought they were fully obeying it.  Moses would have been further saddened that his people rejected the Messiah that he predicted would come.  Moses would have been in agreement with Jesus and opposed to those who were opposed to Jesus.  Moses wrote of Jesus and predicted His coming; yet, they were rejecting Him.  "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him." (Deuteronomy 18:15) See Genesis 3:15, 22:13, 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Deuteronomy 18:15-18  All the sacrifices that God directed Moses to have the people of Israel make pointed to Jesus. See John 1:29  The tabernacle also pointed to Jesus. See Hebrews 9:1-10:18  Israel's festivals also pointed to Jesus. See I Corinthians 5:7

Jesus' conclusion is as follows: "But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?"  Jesus was not shocked that they did not believe what He said to the them.  He knew already their lack of real receptivity to the message of Moses that they were sinners who needed a Savior.  So, they were not receptive to the fact that the very Savior Moses predicted was standing right in front of them.

10. Jesus feeds the 5,000. (6:1-15)

a. Jesus' followers who were really not His followers—the multitudes (6:1-2)
"Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick."

Thought Question:  What will draw large crowds today to churches or to Christian meetings?  Are they at all like those large crowds that followed Jesus?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do you believe divided the crowds that followed Jesus and later left Him from His true followers?  What divides the crowds today from Jesus' true followers and those who are not His true followers?

 

 

"Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.What is it that will draw large crowds?  Usually, it is something that appeals to some selfish desire within us—the best musician, the best athletes, the best comedian, the most famous persons, the biggest tragedy, and other events like these will draw large crowds.  Why was Jesus drawing large crowds?  For the same reasons.  He was doing the spectacular—He was performing "miraculous signs."  These large crowds were not true followers, for as we will see later in chapter six, they were not truly interested in following Him and His ways if it cost them anything.  There are also crowds that can come to churches who also will only come if it does not cost them anything.

"Some time after this"  "A whole year may intervene between the events of chapter five in Jerusalem and chapter six in Galilee . . . The feeding of the five thousand is the only event before the last visit to Jerusalem recorded in all four Gospels (Mark 6:30-44=Matt. 14:13-21=Luke 9:10-17=John 6:1-3)" "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

"(that is, the Sea of Tiberias),"  "Tiberias" was the location of King Herod's castle. See John 21:1  It was named after the Roman Emperor Tiberias.  "This town was founded about A.D. 20, so it is unlikely the lake was called "Tiberias" during Jesus' ministry." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

"the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.The Gospel of John records only a few of His miracles.  John explains why he recorded so few of Jesus' miracles at the end of his Gospel.  "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31)  "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (John 21:25) See Mark 1:32-34

Most of what is called "The Greater Galilean" ministry is not mentioned in John.  It is recorded in Matthew 4:12-14:36; Mark 1:4-7:23; Luke 4:14-9:17  This chapter (chapter 6 of John) is the only event in this Greater Galilean ministry recorded in the Gospel of John.

"the far shore of the Sea of Galilee" In Luke 9:7-9, we learn that Jesus and His disciples went to the other side of the "Sea of Galilee" because His popularity was beginning to be a threat to King Herod. See also Mark 6:30-32 and Matthew 14:12-13  According to Luke 9:10, on the "far shore of the Sea of Galilee" was "a town called Bethsaida."  "Jesus must have retired to a remote area near the town." "NIV Study Bible note on Luke 9:10"  After the feeding of the five thousand, He crosses the "Sea of Galilee" toward Bethsaida of Galilee.  "Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd." (Mark 6:45)

b. His true followers' blindness to who He was (6:3-9)
"Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, 'Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!' Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'"

Thought Question:  Think of times when you were like "Andrew" and looked at the human resources that were available to you and not at the resources that are available to God?

 

 

"Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.We learn in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus took His disciples into a wilderness area to get some rest: "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" (Mark 6:31)  But, here comes a "a great crowd."  This "great crowd" did not come with a great amount of food.  Most everyone has been to a place where there is a "great crowd."  At these times, there normally also is  a great amount of food available (concession stands, etc.).  Here, that was not the case.  Jesus knew that He was going to miraculously provide food for them, but His disciples did not know this.  He asks Philip how they would be able to feed so many people.

"The Jewish Passover Feast was near."  It was spring time when these events took place.

"'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?'"  In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, we learn that Jesus had looked on them earlier with compassion.  "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." (Matthew 14:14)  "During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 'I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.'" (Mark 8:1-3)    In our world, there are those who do not have money to purchase food and are also hungry.  God also looks compassionately on them.  Christians in love have helped in supplying food for these needy people around the world.  In my hometown, there is a ministry called the "Food Bank" that provides food for those who going through tough times.

"He asked this only to test him,"  Our tendency is still today to look at the circumstances rather than look to God.  At the time that I am writing these words, we are in the middle of a campaign to select the Republican candidate for president.  The biggest issue is the extremely poor state of the economy and the national debt.  Humanely, this is our circumstances.  Just as Philip looked not at God's resources, but looked at the circumstance and at man's resources, so we can look only at our circumstances and look only at our human resources when we are in need.

"Philip answered him, 'Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!'"  "Philip" was still blind to the resources that were available to Jesus.  He had turned water into wine (John 2) and He had healed the blind and the sick; could He not miraculously provide food for this large group of transients?  So, can God enable us to accomplish His will today.  Men like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor were known for their trust in God to provide for the needs of their ministries as they persevered in their pursuit of the ministries God called them to.  So, God desires that we also persevere in the ministry God has called us to with the same type of faith. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) See Mark 8:4; Matthew 15:33

"'Eight months' wages"  The original reads, "two hundred denarii."  A denari equaled one day of labor at that time. See Matthew 20:2  "Two hundred denarii" would be almost 7 months' wages.  I am not sure how the NIV came up with "eight months' wages."

"Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'"The barley loaves and fishes cannot be paralleled by the modern concept of five loaves of dark raised bread and two perch.  The bread spoke of was nearly comparable to pancakes for size and shape; and the fish were not the main part of the meal, but were probably pickled fish used as relish, much as sardines are used for hors d' oeuvres." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." See 1:40-42, 12:20-22 for other references to Philip and Andrew.

c. A picture of God's miraculous filling of our spiritual hunger-the feeding of the five thousand (6:10-13)
"Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten."

Thought Question:  Do you believe that this was a miracle or do you believe that there was some natural explanation for what happened?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish."  It was spring and the people could sit down comfortably on the "grass."  There were "about five thousand" "men," but there were many more there that day that were fed, for there were also women and children.  "The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children." (Matthew 14:21)  He probably had them sit down so that it would not be a crowd of people milling around in an unruly fashion.  Luke says that Jesus told the disciples "have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." (Luke 9:14)  As they were sitting down, they could more easily see what was happening.  It would have been interesting to have seen the faces of these people as Jesus prayed, thanking God for the food, when there was only enough food for one small lad.  Then, He began to hand out the food.  Hungry people certainly wondered, "When will the food run out?"  "Will there be enough for me?"  "Will it run out just before I get any?"  Not only was there enough, but everybody ate as much as they wanted.

A friend of mine, in speaking at a Union Gospel Mission service, started his message by describing all the work that went into the purchasing, preparing, and cooking of food for the two hundred who came to his daughter's wedding.  He went into interesting detail explaining it all.  It was a delicious meal with a lot of variety of food offered.  Then, he read the account where Jesus did not feed two hundred, but fed probably eight to ten thousand.

"When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.Some try to come up with ingenious ways to explain how this happened so that it was not a miracle.  One explanation is that it "was really a 'miracle of sublimation.'  In other words, Jesus' teaching was so powerful and compelling that people forgot about their hunger and went home saying, 'His teaching is so rich and fulfilling and satisfying that I'm not even hungry anymore.  Just a few seconds of thought is all it takes to sink this theory.  As one little girl responded when her Sunday School teacher 'explained' the miracle this way, 'Well, then what did they put in the baskets?'" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

What they put in the baskets was what was "left over" from the "the five barley loaves."  There was more "left over" than what Jesus started with.  It was a completely breath-taking and startling miracle that these thousands witnessed that day!

"twelve baskets"  Each disciple had a basket and they went around picking up the left-overs.  Jesus had begun with not enough to fill one basket.  How, then, was there enough to fill twelve baskets after everyone ate until they were full.  There was now enough food so that each disciple could have enough food for later.

d. Those seeking the wrong kingdom (6:14-15)
"After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.' Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."

Thought Question:  The people here were ready to make Him "king."  There are people in our society whom we call "stars" and even "idols."  What do you think of this practice?  How is it like or unlike what was happening here to Jesus? 

 

 

"After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.'"  Moses predicted a future prophet.  "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, 'Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.' The Lord said to me: 'What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.'" (Deuteronomy 18:15-18)  Because of this miracle, the people who had been fed believed that Jesus was the promised "prophet." See John 1:21; Matthew 21:11; Acts 3:22, 7:37

"Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."  "The crowd  was now aroused and there was a movement to make Him king.  Of course, some of the disciples would have rejoiced at the opportunity to become famous and powerful!  Judas would have become treasurer of the kingdom and perhaps Peter would have been named the prime minister!" "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."  We know, now,  that what was in the future for Judas and Peter was quite different from them becoming high officials in the Messiah's Rome-like Empire.  We see here the complete absence of pride and selfishness in Jesus.  He completely resisted the temptation to be exalted and enthroned by the mobs of people.  He also resisted this temptation in the wilderness.  "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.' Jesus said to him, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”'" (Matthew 4:8-10)

As I write these words, as I mentioned before, we are in the middle of a presidential campaign.  We are just like the people of Jesus' day.  We are looking for a king who can rescue us from our economic woes.  The people were looking for a king to rescue them from the Roman oppressive rule over them.  But Jesus did not come to rescue them from their slavery to the Romans, but He came to rescue them from their sin, from their selfishness, and from the eternal damnation that they deserved.  As we will learn later, the crowd left Him when they learned that He offered them this type of salvation.  Later still, they were not yelling to make Him king, but to have Him crucified.

11. Jesus walks on water (6:16-24)
"When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, 'It is I; don’t be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus."

Thought Question:  Has there been any storms lately in your life where it has been hard to look at Jesus and easier to be "terrified" by the uncertainties caused by the storm?

 

 

"When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified." 

Matthew adds the following: "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It’s a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear." (Matthew 14:22-26)

"From the ravines (deep and narrow valleys or gorges between the hills to the west) strong blasts of wind came rushing down, and suddenly struck the lake whose surface lies 682 ft. below the level of the Mediterranean." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

The actual Greek words of Matthew 14:24 should be translated "many stadia" (NASB) rather than "a considerable distance" (NIV)  "A stadion was about 600 feet." "NASB note"  In John 6:19, the actual words state that they were "about twenty-five or thirty stades" from shore. (Disciples' Literal New Testament)  This equals about the "three or three and a half miles" that the NIV says. 

So, they are "three or three and a half miles" out in the sea in the dark and a strong storm comes, threatening their very lives.  Storms can also come suddenly into our lives.  We can feel just like these disciples—we can feel all alone in the middle of a dark storm.  Their muscles were sore from rowing for hours.  "Three or three and a half miles" does not seem to be very far in our automobile age, but a hike of that same distance seems like a long distance.  Rowing that far in a storm would be much harder than hiking that distance.  It would have taken hours.  Matthew 14:25 says that it was "during the fourth watch of the night" which would have been some time between 3 to 6 a.m.  According to John 6:16, they started in the boat in the evening.  We can conclude that they had been rowing for as many as six hours.

Then, "they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified."  In Matthew, we learn that someone said, "It's a ghost." (Matthew 14:26)  As they were facing backwards in their rowing, suddenly they saw Jesus coming to them and catching up to them on this dark stormy night in the middle of the sea.  How would we have responded?  We, also, would have been "terrified."

"But he said to them, 'It is I; don’t be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading."  Matthew gives the fuller account of Peter walking on the water. See Matthew 14:38-32

"'It is I; don’t be afraid.'"  When we are in one of life's dark storms, we can be anxious and we can even be "terrified."  What was true for the disciples so many years ago in their storm can also be true for us in our storms.  Just as Jesus was aware of their dark dilemma, so He is aware of our dark dilemmas.  They did not know that he was aware of what was happening to them, and we can feel that He is not aware of what is happening to us.  But, we know that He did see them, and He chose a very unique way of getting to themwalking right on top of the water!  He could have helped them in many ways.  For example, He could have instantly calmed the sea, but He chose to leave them in the storm and to rescue them from the storm by walking on top of the water out to them.  We would like to have Jesus calm our storms, but He also often leaves us in the storm and rescues us from the storm.  But, whatever happens in our lives, He is still in complete control.  As He used this time of testing in the disciples' lives, He uses the storms in our lives as times of learning so that our faith in Him will grow.

This was the second time the disciples were out on that sea in a storm. See Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-23  Certainly, both times would be remembered in the coming years of ministry when they were in the middle of some type of storm.  May we also remember that Jesus is paying attention to us when we are in our storms.  He is also just as able to rescue us as He was able to rescue them.  He still says the words: "It is I; don’t be afraid." 

"immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading."  Just like that, the trial was over!  This may be the second miracle in these verses: 1) Jesus walking on the water.  2) The boat miraculously and suddenly reaching the shore.  Mark tells us that when Jesus entered the boat, ". . . the wind died down. . ." (Mark 6:51)

Paul had this type of faith: "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (2 Timothy 4:16-18)

"The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.The crowds who were where Jesus had been, realized that Jesus was gone, even though He had not gone away in one of the boats with the disciples.  And, so, the crowds that had been there for the feeding of the five thousand plus some newcomers "from Tiberias" were added to the numbers.  They all went "to Capernaum in search of Jesus" the miracle-worker.  Certainly, it never entered their minds that Jesus had walked across the water. Tiberias, King Herod's capitol city, was southwest of where they were on the eastern shore of the Sea of Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee).

12. Jesus offers Himself as the Bread of Life. (6:25-71)

a. Jesus is the Bread of Life. (6:24-40)
"When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, 'Rabbi, when did you get here?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.' Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?' Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.' So they asked him, 'What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' 'Sir,' they said, 'from now on give us this bread.' Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.'"

Thought Question #1:  How can belief in God be "the work of God"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you believe Jesus calls Himself, "the bread of life"

 

 

"When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, 'Rabbi, when did you get here?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.'"  Why did these crowds search for Him?  Was it because they saw His miracles and believed that He was the Son of God and they wanted to hear what God wanted them to know?  We learn here that the answer to the question is, "No."  Instead, as Jesus says here, they liked having their bellies full for free and they wanted it to happen again.  Jesus' miracles were signs from God, and they should have been drawn to God through them.  Instead, they were like a bunch of children following someone who was giving out free ice cream bars.

I wonder if we had been there when food was not as plentiful as it is now, would we have been just like them and followed Him looking for another free meal?  Over the years, I have worked with children and youth.  A hard part of working with them is that it is obvious that they are much more interested in fun and sweets than they are interested in learning about God.  It is more obvious with children, but this type of thing is also true of people of all ages.  Jesus was not fooled about why the large crowds were following Him.

Jesus does not explain to them about His miraculous walk across the sea.  He does not cater at all to the crowds' interest in the spectacular to keep His popularity with them alive.  Instead, He exposes the selfishness and godlessness in their hearts.  "You are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill."  As Barclay said, "It is as if Jesus said, 'You cannot think about your souls for thinking about your stomach.'"

"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."  Most in the world are seeking after little or nothing beyond what this world can offer.  Jesus, here, directs us to raise our focus and to pursue that which is "eternal."  And this "eternal life" is what  Jesus desired to "give" them.  He desires also to give this eternal life today to all who will pursue Him and pursue it.

"'On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.'"  The miracles that Jesus performed were the Father's "seal of approval."  Jesus was and is "the Son of Man" and the Son of God, approved by "the Father," who has come to give us "eternal life."  Only our pride, self-sufficiency, and self-will stand in the way of our receiving it.  Yet, still, today, most reject Him and the "eternal life" that he offers.

Two other possibilities of what Jesus meant by the Father's "seal of approval" are (1) the Holy Spirit is the Father's "seal."  The Holy Spirit is God's "seal" that declares that we are God's children.  "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)  (2) God's "seal of approval" was what He said at Jesus' baptism: "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3:17)  I do not believe that we need choose one of the possibilities, for they are all part of the Father's "seal of approval" of His Son—the miracles, the Holy Spirit, and what "the Father" said at His baptism.

"Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?' Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'"  How can belief in God be the "the work of God"?  I find Hebrews 4:11 interesting: "Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience."  How does making "every effort" and "rest" go together?  The problem is that we normally try to do for ourselves what God has done for us.  Jesus atoned for our sin; our normal human tendency is for us to try to atone for our own sins.  It takes diligence to rest in what God has already done for us.  God wants us to trust Him and enjoy His forgiveness and peace, yet we are not always peaceful and we do not always feel forgiven.  What do we do?  We work at putting our trust in all that God has done for us. See Ephesians 2:8-9

"to believe" is in the present tense.  "The work of God" is to keep on believing in God, even when it is difficult "to believe."

"So they asked him, 'What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”'"  Had Jesus not just given them a "sign"?  Why were they asking for another "sign"?  The NIV Study Bible note on these verses gives this possible answer to Jesus' question: "The crowd probably reasoned that Jesus had done little compared to Moses.  He fed 5,000; Moses had fed a nation.  He did it once; Moses did it for 40 years.  He gave ordinary bread; Moses gave 'bread from heaven.'"  Jesus had merely given them some ordinary bread; Moses gave heavenly "bread."  Boice believed that they were trying to manipulate Jesus into doing a greater miracle, and he is probably right.  If Jesus was the Messiah, he would have to impress them more by doing something more spectacular than He had already done. See Exodus 16; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:24; Luke 11:29; I Corinthians 1:22  How would Jesus answer their challenge and demand?

"Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'"  Jesus does not allow Himself to be manipulated by their demands.  Instead, He corrects them.  It was "not Moses" who gave them the manna, it was God who did it.  Also, God was now about to give them "the true bread from heaven."  This "bread" will not fill the stomach and give physical nourishment, but it will give "life to the world."

Jesus refuses to be compared to Moses.  Instead, He points out that both the "bread from heaven" in Moses' time and the "bread from heaven" that He offers did not come from man but from God.

As we will see, the manna in Moses' time and the bread that miraculously fed the crowds that were with Jesus were both pointing to what will fill our spiritual hunger.  Nevertheless, as we will also see, the crowds were focused on the physical and missed His main message. 

"'Sir,' they said, 'from now on give us this bread.' Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'"  Like the woman at the well, who at first asked for physical water that would quench her physical thirst (see 4:13-15), these Jews here were still looking for physical "bread" to be miraculously provided to them.  As Moses continually provided Israel with manna in the wilderness, they were hoping that Jesus would continually provide them with "bread" so that they would never be hungry again.

What He said next is not what they wanted to hear.  "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."  This is the first of the "I am" statements in John. Here are the rest of them:  "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)  "Therefore Jesus said again, 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.'" (John 10:7-9)  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 'I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.'" (John 10:11-14)  "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" (John 11:25-26)  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." (John 15:1)  "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) 

When Jesus identified Himself as "I am," He was using God's name.  When Moses asked God to give him His name, God said that His name was "I am."  "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.”'" (Exodus 3:14)  Another "I am" statement is found in John 8:58: "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'"

Although men are not usually aware of it, man's greatest need is to be spiritually united with God.  As a song of years ago said: "Is there something missing?"  What is missing is that we were born separated from God morally, legally, and spiritually.  Here, Jesus is speaking to our spiritual need.  We were meant to have God's Spirit indwelling us.  Jesus' life is to our spiritual hunger is what physical "bread" is to our physical hunger.  Jesus came to meet the spiritual emptiness inside of all men.  He said, "I am the bread of life."  Also, He said that whoever "comes to" Him "will never to hungry" and "will never be thirsty."

"he who believes in me will never be thirsty."  The "believes" is in the present tense and describes a continual believing.  The kind of belief that is described here is the type of believing that continues to believe that Jesus is the "bread of life—it means that we continue to believe that He is "bread of life" today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives.

"But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe."  Why did they not believe in Him?  The answer is given quite clearly in an earlier verse: "yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:40)  It is not that they couldn't believe as some teach, but that they would not believe.  "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: 'Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:" (John 12:37-39)  Notice, they "could not believe" is preceded by they "would not believe."  They "could not believe" because they "would not believe." See also Romans 1:28; II Thessalonians 2:9-10; Revelation 16:9 

Liver and onions is on the menu at a local restaurant.  I saw it on the menu, but I did not order it.  Why didn't I order it?  I do not like to eat liver and onions.  The people saw Jesus, but did not believe in Him.  Why didn't they believe in Him?  He was liver and onions to them.  There was no interest in their hearts for what He offered to them.  How could Jesus be like liver and onions to people?  Listen to the atheistic comedian who mocks Christianity or the atheistic scientist whose greatest goal is to eradicate Christianity from the face of the earth.Jesus understood what He was faced with: "but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts." (John 5:42)  There was a time also in my life when Jesus and the Bible were like liver and onions to me. (I apologize to those who like liver and onions.)  This may have been true for you as well.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."  Who are those that the Father gives to Jesus?  One answer that is given here is that those who "will come" to Jesus are the ones "that the Father gives" to Jesus.

Why, then, do they "come" to Jesus?  The Calvinists will say that it is because God chose them and His irresistible grace changes their complete lack of desire for God into a desire for God by giving them the new birth—God chooses people who have no interest in Him and gives them a desire for Him.

Is there another possibility why people come to Him?  According to Romans 8:28, God uses everything in their lives to bring them to an awareness of their need for God.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)  They, then, come to receive the new birth as they come to see their neediness.  It is these who are "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3) and who are "good soil" (Matthew 13:23) who are receptive to the gospel message and "come to" Jesus.  Then, everyone who comes to Jesus, He "will never drive away."  Are you one of the elect?  Did you come to Jesus?  If your answer is "Yes," then you are one of the elect.  The problem is not that Jesus rejects people when they come to Him, but that people do not want to come to Him.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me,"  Jesus was not disturbed at how many were rejecting Him, for He knew that there would be those who would receive Him.  So, today, most reject the gospel message.  But, there will always be also those who will receive it.  We can be greatly encouraged by this truth. 

"'For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.'Jesus did not "come down from heaven" to reject people, but He came to receive to Himself those whom the Father would give to Him.

Here we have an answer to whether or not we can lose our salvation.  It is the "Father's will" that Jesus "lose none" that the "Father" "has given" Him.  If we truly come to God, then, we are chosen by God and he will ensure that we will be raised to be with Him "at the last day."  "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)  "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)  "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30)  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39)  "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (2 Timothy 1:12)

"For I have come down from heaven"  No one else could have said these words and no one can say these words today. For there is only One who has "come down from heaven."  His words should be stunning to us.  If any man or woman said this today, we would think he or she is crazy.  As has been said of Jesus, he was either a liar, a lunatic, or He was Lord. See John 6:33,38,41-42,50-51, and 58 for other times in this chapter where Jesus is described as coming down from heaven.

"'For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.'As is true of many people, there was a time when I did not truly see who Jesus is.  To me, He was more of a storybook character—someone like Paul Bunyan or Santa Claus.  I knew that He was supposed to be the Son of God, but the reality of that did not register with me at all.  Then, at age 27, I realized the reality of Him being the Son of God who died for my sins.  My new real belief in Him completely changed the direction of my life.  My belief resulted in God the Father also becoming a reality to me.  "Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.'" (John 12:44-46)

How can we know that we are one of the ones that "the Father" "has given" to the Son?  If we believe in the Son with the type of faith that leads to us becoming a follower of His, we are one of the ones "given" to the Son by "the Father." 

"People have imagined that the responsibility of human beings for their sin is lessened if one speaks of election.  But this is not true.  It is true that some have preached election in a way that implies that men are not responsible, but this comes from the dictates of reason rather than the plain teaching of the word of God.  God elects, but men are also responsible . . . .If you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, your failure to do so is your own responsibility." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

b. Many of Jesus' disciples reject Him. (6:41-59)
"At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I came down from heaven”?  'Stop grumbling among yourselves,' Jesus answered. 'No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God.” Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.' He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum."

Thought Question:  What is meant by the Father drawing us to Jesus? (Does He draw those who are completely resistant to being drawn to Him?  Is His drawing of us include our cooperation in any way?)

 

 

"At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I came down from heaven”?'"

"The Jews"  John uses this term to refer to the Jewish leaders who were opposed to Jesus.  But, we will learn later in this chapter that the crowds also rejected Jesus. So it appears that "the Jews," here, also refers to the crowds of "Jews." See 6:60-61

To understand how the crowd felt when Jesus said that He was "the bread of life" "who came down from heaven," it helps to imagine if someone you know from your hometown was the one saying these words.  Ray Stedman said that when he was speaking, a young man came up on stage, went to the microphone, and in all seriousness declared that he was the prophet Elijah.  He was not taken seriously, nor did these crowds take Jesus seriously.  They knew Him and even though He had miraculously just fed them, they were not at all receptive to His claim to be from heaven.

"the Jews began to grumble"  If people grumble about a leader, it is the very opposite of them giving him a good reception.  This crowd was doing the very opposite of giving Jesus' claims a good reception.  It is interesting that the people of Israel also grumbled about the bread or manna from heaven that God provided them during Moses' time. See Exodus 15:22-24, 16:1-3, 17:1-3; Numbers 11:1-6, 14:1-4 for examples of Israel's "grumbling."
 
"'Stop grumbling among yourselves,' Jesus answered. 'No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.'"  Jesus was not surprised or dismayed at their disbelief and grumbling, for He knew that men can only come to believe in Him when they are drawn to believe in Him by the Father.  Anyone who has tried to share the gospel and found that his or her words were not being understood or received well has learned that without God's work in a person's life, there is no interest in the gospel message.  Years ago, I worked in a state boys' institution while going through seminary.  The Lord opened up the hearts of some young men, and they received the gospel message that I shared.  Shortly after that, I tried to share the gospel message with a man next to a Christian book store.  I got absolutely nowhere in trying to explain the gospel to him.  With the boys, God was drawing them; with the man next to the Christian book store, that drawing had not taken place.

How does this drawing take place?  The Greek word translated "draws" is found in other places in the Gospel of John.  "He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish." (John 21:6)  "Haul" is the same Greek word as "draws" in 6:44.  So, it is a drawing in spite of resistance. See Also John 12:32, 18:10; Acts 16:19; James 2:6  When God draws or drags someone to Jesus, does that person have any choice in the process at all?  Is the drawing like a teacher encouraging a child to learn by using wise persuasion?  Or, on the other hand, is it like a criminal being forced to go to jail?  In the first case, a child usually will not choose to go to school and work at learning when that child also has a choice to play, but often a child can be encouraged to learn by wise parents and teachers who draw him or her in the right direction.  "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)  Whereas, the criminal will not go to jail or stay in jail except that he is forced to stay.  Are we dragged by God to Jesus like a criminal completely against our will or are we drawn by God to Jesus as He wisely creates in us the willingness to seek Him?  In both cases, we begin with no interest in seeking God.  If we have no part in the process, then God could choose everyone to be dragged to Him, but He only chooses to drag a few.  If we have a part in the process, then, all could come to Jesus, but only a few allow themselves to be drawn to Jesus.  Then, those who ultimately go to hell are those who resist to the end His drawing of them.  There are verses in the Bible that indicate that the latter is true.  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37)  "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 7:51)  "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." (Hebrews 6:4-6)  "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry." (Zechariah 7:11-12)  Also, Jesus states that His death on the cross would "draw all men" to Him (same word for "draw" as here in 6:44).  The way the cross draws us appears to involve our willingness to be drawn or attracted to Jesus' love expressed on the cross.  The same Greek word is used in the Greek translation of Jeremiah 31:3: "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" (Jeremiah 31:3)  A criminal is not dragged off to jail because of the loving-kindness of the policeman.

Boice argued from the Calvinist position that there are no examples of the use of the word "draws" in the New Testament where the dragging can be successfully resisted—it is an irresistible drawing whereby anybody, no matter how opposed to God, could be irresistibly drawn to Jesus.  Yet, Stephen said that Israel did successfully "resist the Holy Spirit." (Acts 7:51)  The issue remains between those of the Calvinist theology and those who do not agree with them.  John 6:44 and Romans 9 are the verses most used by Calvinists.  I Timothy 2:3 and II Peter 3:9 are verses used by those who disagree with them.  "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4)  "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)  The Calvinists believe that only the elect who are irresistibly drawn to God can be saved.  Others are unable to come to God and are doomed to hell even before they are born.  Non-Calvinists believe that anyone can be saved, but most reject the gospel.  But those who do come to Christ have been drawn to Him in a myriad of ways: the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-10); parents' discipline (Proverbs 6:23, 10:17, 22:6,15, 29:15); the trials in life (Proverbs 3:11-12; Deuteronomy 8:3-5); the Scriptures (Hebrews 4:12-13); the law (Romans 3:19-20, 5:20-21, 7:13); the godly testimony of Christians (John 17:21-23, 13;35; Matthew 5:13-16; Acts 2:47; Philippians 2:14-15; I Peter 3:1-2); preaching in God's power (Roman 1:17; I Corinthians 2:1-5); prayer (Colossians 4:2-4; I Timothy 2:1-7); the cross (John 8:27-28); spiritual emptiness without God (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3; John 6:35); Jesus' life (John 1:9); jealousy when others come to Christ (Romans 11:13); God's love and kindness (Romans 2:4; Jeremiah 31:3); God reveals His truth to us (Matthew 16:15-17); and God's direct action (Jesus' appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus).  All of what has been listed is how I believe God draws people to Himself.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Children do not seek God and His ways, but godly parents seek to train them toward a godly pattern of life.  "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)  "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." (Proverbs 22:15)  Yet, these children can resist their parents godly discipline.  "A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy." (Proverbs 29:1)

"'It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God.” Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.'"  Jesus quotes Isaiah 54:13: "All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace." (Isaiah 54:13)  Isaiah is pointing to a time in the future when Israel will be drawn back to God as He calls them back.  "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David." (Isaiah 55:1-3)

Isaiah 54:13 predicts a future return of Israel to God through belief in the Messiah predicted in Isaiah 53.  Isaiah 53 predicts the coming of Jesus as the suffering Servant who would die for Israel's sins.  A time is predicted when Israel will believe in Jesus as their Messiah.  "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." (Zechariah 12:10)  At that time, "all" will "be taught by God."  Although Israel was rejecting Jesus at the time that He quotes this verse from Isaiah about a national revival of Israel, still those who were believing in Him were the first of those in Israel who did receive Him as their Messiah.  They were the foretaste of the revival that was to come.  In the future, Israel would "all be taught by God."  But at the time that Jesus quotes these words, there were those who were being drawn to Him and being "taught by God."  They were listening "to the Father" and learning "from him."  It was because they were willing to listen and learn from the Father, that they were coming to Jesus.  They were coming to Him as all Israel should have been coming to Him.  "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1)

God through Jesus Christ calls all men to Himself, but only those who choose Him come. Only those who listen and learn from "the Father" come.  "If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (John 7:17)  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.'" (John 7:37)  "It is not enough to hear God's voice.  He must heed it and learn it and do it.  This one inevitably comes to Christ." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

"No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."  John said something similar earlier in this Gospel.  "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known." (John 1:18)  Jesus was and is unique among men on this earth, for he alone "has seen the Father." 

Then, Jesus says that "he who believes has everlasting life.There are two very different ways of interpreting these words.  From the Calvinist position, when you believe, you show that you have life already and that you are already born again.  The other way of taking these words is that when you choose to believe, at that moment you receive the gift of "everlasting life."  John 3:16 appears to support the last interpretation.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  "Here we see a two-step process by which God brings us to Himself.  Having been drawn, says Jesus, we must believe.  Sometimes He draws us through painful experiences, through hurt, loss, and disappointment.  But He also draws us through joys, through unexpected blessings and pleasures, through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.  Some are drawn through the process of years, while others are spiritually awakened suddenly and dramatically like Paul on the Damascus Road.  It is all in the control of God, but once we have been awakened, our responsibility is to respond and believe." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

"'I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.'"  Jesus clearly explains His reason for coming and what He offers as the ultimate gift.  We hear that in the early history of the founding of our continent that there was the hope that there was a fountain of youth where those who drank of it would receive eternal life.  Jesus offers eternal life.  What greater gift is there than that?  Not only is it a life that never ends, but it is also the fullest life that can be experienced.  Once more, what greater gift is there than that?

The crowds following Jesus were interested only in the bread that Moses gave—but this bread did not give them eternal life, for later these men died as all men do.  Jesus offered Himself—the bread that would result in a life that will never end.  Here, Jesus also introduces the cost he will pay for our eternal life: "This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." See also 3:16, 10:11,15, 11:50-53, 15:13

"I am the bread of life.There is a slight change in verse 51 from what He said earlier.  There He said that He is "the bread of life" (6:35); here, He says that He is the "living bread."  "The living bread (ho artos ho zon).   'The bread of the living.'  repetition of the claim in 35, 41, 48, but with a slight change from zoes to zon (present active participle of zao).  It is alive and can give life." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

"Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him."  John six begins with Jesus being followed by large crowds of people and ends with Him having only a small group of followers.  He could have easily avoided the loss of numbers by not saying what He says in these verses.  He gave them a message that they contemptuously and scornfully rejected—so, they also rejected Him.

There were times when Jesus upset or offended people by what He said.  This is one of those times.  We see in verse 53 that they were upset that He said that He would give His "flesh" for them to "eat."  When He saw that they were angry and upset, does He soften His words?  No, He becomes even stronger.  He even starts what He says with "I tell you the truth."  In the King James it reads, "Verily verily."  It is "Truly truly" in the NASB, ESV, and Disciples Literal New Testament.  It is amen amen in the Greek text.  He does not back down, but becomes even more emphatic.  Jesus speaks of the absolute necessity of taking His life inside of them before they can have the eternal life that He offers.

"and I will raise him up at the last day. . . remains in me, and I in him."  Here, we have assurances given that when one takes Jesus' life into him or her, that our eternity with Him is secure and that He will be with us forever—we remain in Him and He remains in us.

"drinks my blood"  "To the Jews drinking blood was very repulsive; cf. Gen. 9:4; Lev. 3:17, 17:10, 12, 14." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  But, Jesus was predicting something that was predicted in the Bible.  "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life." (Leviticus 17:11)  We picture what Jesus describes every time we take communion.  The bread represents His body and juice represents His blood.  Our eating the bread and drinking the juice represents taking His life into us and believing in His blood shed for us.  The Lord's Supper symbolizes what Jesus says here.  Jesus, obviously, did not mean that they would literally eat His "flesh" and drink His "blood";  although the Roman Catholic church teaches something like this.  Instead, when we first believe in Jesus, Christ's life comes inside of us.  "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Here, Jesus uses the physical to describe a spiritual truth, just as He did with Nicodemus—you must be "born again" (John 3:3)  and with the woman at the well—"living water" (John 4:10).  

Why does Jesus say that which His audience found repulsive?  Barclay has an interesting answer to this question.  Some of the Old Testament sacrifices were consumed.  For example, the Passover lamb was eaten by the family.  Jesus was saying that He was the fulfillment of these symbolic sacrifices of Israel.  They, though, were unreceptive to His message.

"Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me."  Just as Jesus lived on earth in total dependence on the Father, so we are to live in total dependence on Jesus.  Our dependence on Jesus as our source of spiritual life is described in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." See also John 5:19-20, 14:6  Jesus' dependence on the Father is described in John 4:34: "'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'"  Jesus, here, gives the formula for experiencing real life.  Yet, the crowds in their hardness of heart, completely missed it.

"feeds on me"  "Feeds" is in the present tense and describes a life of continually feeding and depending on Jesus—each second, minute, and day.  Each moment, we should ask ourselves: "Are we, right now, depending on Jesus for His life?"

"'This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.' He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.Jesus, in that "synagogue in Capernaum," gave those listening to Him, what they could do to experience the fountain of eternal life.  He is the fountain of eternal life.  As we will see, they rejected the eternal life that He offered.

"feeds on this bread"  Again, "feeds" is in the present tense and describes continually feeding on the life of Jesus.

c. Many of Jesus' disciples reject Him. (6:60-66)
"On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?' Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, 'Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.' From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him."

Thought Question:  From these verses, seek to determine why many of Jesus' disciples rejected Him.

 

 

"On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?' Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, 'Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!'"  Paul says this in I Corinthians 2:14: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."  Jesus was using the eating of His body and the drinking of His blood to describe taking His spiritual life into their spirits.  They had no receptivity to this spiritual truth.  It was "foolishness" to them.

"'This is a hard teaching.'"  "The Greek word is skleros [for hard], and it clearly does not mean 'hard to understand.'  It means 'hard to tolerate.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Jesus' words did not fit anywhere in their view of the world.  All we who are Christians find that what we believe is not accepted by those who are not born again.  Often, their worldview excludes God.  Our view of God is "hard" for them to hear and it is unacceptable to them.

"What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!"  What if Jesus suddenly returned to heaven right before their eyes.  Would they, then, be willing to listen to Him? See 3:13, 8:58, 17:5

"many of his disciples"  It is clear that there were those who followed Him who called themselves "his disciples" who were not truly "his disciples."  Jesus described His true "disciples" in John 8:31-32: "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"

Many who attend churches who call themselves Christians have actual worldviews that exclude Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, who came from heaven, and who is their Lord.  They will participate in church activities up to a point.  But if pressed on what it truly means to be a Christian, they will become offended.

"'The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.'  For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him."  "The Spirit" that Jesus is speaking of is the Holy Spirit who "gives life." See 3:6, 4:13-14, 7:37-39  Before we were Christians, we did not know about this spiritual life from God.  We may have seen it insomeone else's life, but we had not experienced it ourselves.  A friend shared that you can know a lot of information about a famous donut, but you do not know how good it is until you actually taste and consume one.  We do not know about the life God's "Spirit gives" until He is actually in us giving us His "life." 

"the flesh counts for nothing."  What does Jesus mean by these words?  Hendriksen gives one possibility and Boice gives another:  "What Jesus meant was this: 'My flesh cannot benefit you; stop thinking that I was asking you literally to eat my body or literally to drink my blood.'" "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  The first possibility is that Jesus was speaking of His Spiritual life coming into them; they could not benefit from His actual flesh.  Boice offers another possibility of what Jesus meant: "Wouldn't it have been wonderful to have known the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh?  Wouldn't it have been glorious to have walked with Him, to have heard His voice, to have moved about with Him as He moved from place to place during His three-year ministry? . . . But the interesting thing is that many in Christ's day did just that but nevertheless did not believe and eventually 'went back and walked no more with Him.'  Knowing the Lord after the flesh did not necessary profit those who were with him." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Hendriksen believed that Jesus was referring to His actual flesh not counting for anything with regard to giving them life; Boice believed Jesus was talking of our flesh not giving us the ability to understand His words—we need the Spirit to give us understanding.  Since, Jesus says next: "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life," it appears to me that Boice was correct and that Jesus was speaking of the "flesh" not giving us the ability to understand His words.  You can decide for yourself which of the two was correct.  Both statements are true; the only question is, which of the two was Jesus speaking of here?

"For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him."  Jesus was not gullible, thinking everyone thought He was wonderful; on the contrary, He knew "from the beginning" of His ministry that there would be some who would receive Him and that most would reject Him.  Paul teaches the same truth in II Corinthians 2:14-16: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. . . "  Still, today, we share God's truth knowing that some will love us for it and some will hates us for it. How did Jesus know who would "not believe" in Him and "who would betray him"?  We are not told specifically here, but we can assume that it was either that this supernatural knowledge about what was in the hearts of those He spoke to came from His own divine omniscience, it came from the Father, or from the Spirit.  Some believe that part of His becoming a man included human limitations on what he knew and did not know.  They believe that He received knowledge beyond Himself when it was given to Him by the Father or the Holy Spirit. See John 5:19-20  Others believe that He had no human limitations on His knowledge.  We must leave this as a mystery of the God-man. 

"'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.'"  This verse teaches the same truth that Jesus stated in 6:44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."  Jesus knew that those who did not believe in Him were not believing in Him because they had not become ripe for the harvest through the work of the Father.  Those in Sychar of Samaria were "enabled" by the Father and were ripe for harvest. See 4:5, 35-41  In our world, there are those that are prepared by the Father and those who are not interested in Spiritual truth—there are those who are ripe for harvest and those who are not ripe.  We are to share with both as Jesus does here, for God can use His words to help prepare those who are not yet ready to believe the gospel.

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.What must it have been like for the closest followers of Jesus as they saw the crowds leaving Jesus?  He had gone from being a person of great popularity to being a despised person.  Why did the crowds leave Him?  We can only speculate, but here are some likely reasons:  (1) He did not come through with more bread.  (2) Jesus was heading toward a clash with the religious authorities, and they believed that the authorities would win—it was dangerous for them to be around Him.  (3) His spiritual message was completely unappealing to them.  Whatever the reason, they left Jesus and His closest followers alone. See Luke 9:62

c. Jesus closest disciples do not reject Him. (6:67-71)
"'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.' Then Jesus replied, 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!' (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)"

Thought Question:  From these verses, seek to understand why His closest followers did not reject Him?

 

 

"'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'"  Jesus asks this question in such a way that "a negative reply is expected.  Do they really wish  to remain his followers?" "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  Most of us have had situations where we could choose to be one of the crowd or choose to take a stand and as a result end up being on the outside looking in.  At the time recorded here in John, it was no longer the "in-thing" to be with Jesus.  What would His closest followers do?  What type of followers were they?  Were they only fair-weather friends or were they with Him through both the ups and the downs?

We see here that following Christ is completely voluntary.  There is absolutely no coercion in His question.  They could freely choose to follow Him or not to follow Him.  It was their choice.

Peter, as in other situations, is the first to answer. See Matthew 16:13-16  Here is Peter's answer: "'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'"  Peter and the others would not leave Him for three reasons: 1) He had "the words of eternal life."  2) Where else would they "go"?  3) He is "the Holy One of God."  Peter and the others (with the exception of Judas) got it.  They understood what He was saying: His life provided "eternal life" to those who believed that He is "the Holy One of God."  In Matthew 16, Peter said something similar: "Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"  At that time, "Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'" (Matthew 16:17)  Here in John, Peter and the others believed in Him because the Father had given them to Him. See 6:44  In Jesus' High Priestly prayer, He said that the Father gave them to Him.  "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word." (John 17:6) See Mark 1:24 and Psalm 16:10 for other times Jesus is referred to us as "the Holy one."

Peter and the others had concluded that Jesus is God, so where else could they turn if they turned away from Him?  As Psalm 139 states, no matter where we go, He is still with us.  If we turn away from Him, the omnipresent One is still always present. See Psalm 139:8-12

"We believe" is in the perfect tense and states that they had believed in the past and were continuing in this state of belief.  Once we truly believe that Jesus is "the Holy One of God" that which we have believed to be true will continue to be true throughout our life.  "The Twelve" (excluding Judas Iscariot) now divided themselves from the crowds; for they believed in who Jesus is and they, with some lapses, would believe in Him to the end.  For most of them, according to church tradition, that belief would result in them dying as martyrs.

"Then Jesus replied, 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!' (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)Peter had said, "We believe."  Peter and the others did not know what was in Judas' heart.  Jesus knew, though, what was in his heart.  "One of you is a devil!"  Did Judas know that Jesus was speaking of him?  There are certainly people who attend churches that are believed to be Christians, but who are like Judas.  They are there for some selfish reason and are not there to serve Christ.  In their hearts, they know that they are attending not out of belief, but for a selfish and hidden purpose.

Jesus was not surprised that Peter and the others stayed with Him, for He chose them.  But He also chose Judas.  Why did He choose one who was going to betray Him?  Jesus came into Satan's territory here on this earth.  He did not isolate or insulate Himself from Satan.  One of Satan's men was right among His closest followers.  It was predicted that this would take place.  "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." (Psalm 41:9)  Judas' deviltry stands in stark contrast to Jesus' purity of motives.  Judas' presence among "the Twelve" predicts the presence of Satan's people in the church today.  The Parable of the Weeds describes this reality.  "Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.' He answered, 'The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.'" (Matthew 13:36-39)

In the next volume, we will continue with John's description of Jesus ministry.  Read on as we move on to John's account in John seven.

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Studies in John