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The Gospel of John
Volume II (7-12)

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!

We continue now in Jesus' public ministry to Israel as recorded by John in chapter 7.  In the previous volume, we left off at the end of chapter 6.

13. Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-52)

a. Jesus' brothers' worldly wisdom (7:1-5)
"After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.' For even his own brothers did not believe in him."

Thought Question:  Why was Jesus' brothers' advice not good advice?

 

 

"After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life."  This short statement in John summarizes a period of time that is described in more detail in Matthew 15:21-18:35.  It was about a six month period from the Feast of Passover in the spring (see 6:4) to the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall (see 7:2).  The fact that this period is described in detail in Matthew may be the reason that John skips over it.

"purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life." We see here that Jesus wisely used His last days of ministry.  He could have gone to Judea, but that would have led to His death at an earlier time.  Instead, He went to Galilee to complete some ministry that He desired to do before His death.  This time was spent focusing on His closest followers. See Matthew 17:5-18:35

"But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.'"  The "Feast of Tabernacles" was around the time of our month of October. It followed the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Trumpets was on the first day of their seventh month, the Day of Atonement was on the tenth day, and the "Feast of Tabernacles" was on the fifteenth day and lasted for seven days. See Leviticus 23:23-44; Numbers 29:7-40  It was a time of remembering Israel's time in the wilderness.  But it also pointed forward to a time in the future when Jesus will rule in Israel for one thousand years.  "The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name." (Zechariah 14:9)  "Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles." (Zechariah 14:16) 

We see here that "Jesus' brothers" were completely out of touch with what was Jesus' purpose on earth.  They thought He wanted to gain popularity by impressing people with His miracles.  A prime time to do this would be at the Feast of Tabernacles when everyone was in Judea.  Jesus had recently lost His popularity.  The crowds following Him were growing smaller, so his brothers had a strategy for Him that would increase His popularity.

We learn here that Jesus had "brothers."  He also had sisters. See Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:1-3  Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, but Joseph and Mary had children in the normal way after Jesus' birth.

"For even his own brothers did not believe in him.They clearly did not believe He was the promised Messiah.  They did not seek His wisdom and knowledge as the one and only Son of God.  Instead, they gave him their wisdom.  There may even have been a tone of sarcasm in these words: "No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret."  It appears that they saw Him as seeking to run for political office.  They offered Him advice as His political strategists.  They probably were just trying to be helpful.

b. Jesus' heavenly wisdom (7:6-13)
"Therefore Jesus told them, 'The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.' Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, 'Where is that man? Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, 'He is a good man.' Others replied, 'No, he deceives the people.' But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews."

Thought Question #1:  Why was Jesus' plan better than His brothers' plan?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What was the difference between Jesus going when His brothers' said for Him to go and Jesus going when He went? (He still did go.)

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What do we learn here about what the ordinary person in Israel thought about Jesus?

 

 

"Therefore Jesus told them, 'The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.'His brothers did not understand that He was different from them.  They could do this type of thing—think and act politically, but He could not.  God's ways are truly above our ways.  "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah 55:8-9)  His brothers' way of looking at Him was completely out of touch with what His true mission on earth was.  So often, we are like Jesus' brothers.  We figure out in our heads what we think God should do and when He should do it.  Then, we get perplexed when it does not happen that way.  Because we know today that Jesus' premiere purpose was to die for our sins, we see the foolishness of the brothers' advice.  But, what if we did not know Jesus' purpose as the brothers did not know it.  Might we not have been the ones offering similar advice to Jesus?  In so many situations, we do not fully understand God's purposes, and we are perplexed at what is happening in our lives.  We need to trust that God knows exactly what He is doing, just as He did when Jesus did not take His brothers' advice so many years ago.

"The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil."  Recently, our state declared that homosexual marriages are legal.  I wrote a letter declaring that that decision was "evil."  This morning, I received a phone call from a fellow Christian thanking me for the letter.  But, that will not be the last I will hear of it.  I know that there will be those who will hate me for what I wrote.  Jesus' brothers were not hated by the world for they were not going in a direction that put them in direct confrontation with the ways of the world as Jesus was.

"'the right time has not yet come.'"  Jesus' time to die was not at the Feast of the Tabernacles (in the fall), but at the Feast of Passover (in the spring).  The Feast of Passover symbolized and predicted His death for man's sin—it symbolized salvation from God's judgment through the blood of a Lamb.  Jesus was the Lamb of God.  "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)  "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)  Jesus' purpose was to die, and there was a time set in God's plan for when it would happen.  "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)

"the right time"  The Greek word translated as "time" is kairos and not chronos.  It is a distinction between chronological time—chronos, and opportune time—kairos.  Jesus may have meant, then, that this is not the opportune "time" for me to go to the Feast of Tabernacles."  But, it appears to me, to be in line with His brothers' reasoning, that Jesus was saying that it not the "time" for me to manifest my full purpose for coming—it is not the time for me to die at the hands of the Jews.  That purpose would be accomplished when He hung on the cross six months after this Feast of Tabernacles.  Then, the brothers would learn how much the world hated Him!

"'You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.' Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret."  Jesus was led by the Father to go to the Feast, but not in the splashy and spectacular way suggested to Him by His brothers, but in the quiet and unspectacular way of the ordinary person.  In our words, He chose to take a low profile—He chose not to draw attention to Himself.  He did not make a grand entrance, but chose to avoid notice as much as possible.  He also waited and went after the crowds had already come and after everything had begun to settle into the normal routine of the Festival.

"Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, 'Where is that man? Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, 'He is a good man.' Others replied, 'No, he deceives the people.' But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.Here, we have a situation that has happened many times.  The populace knew what those in power believed.  Therefore, they knew what was safe to say and what was not safe to believe and say.  So, they were careful to say only what would not get back to those in power, putting them in danger. 

"Some said, 'He is a good man.'"  But they would not "say anything publicly" "for fear of the Jews."  "The Jewish leaders controlled the people.  They were like thought police, or the Gestapo that were later so hard on the Jews (that's a bitter irony, but true!).  Everyone was afraid of being hauled up before the religious leaders of the Jews, so all talk of Jesus was guarded talk." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

"He is a good man."  If this sentence were an option in a multiple choice test about who Jesus was, many would check it off as the correct answer.  Those of us who are Christians agree with Peter when he said to Jesus: "We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:69)  Jesus is infinitely more than a "good man."  Nevertheless, those who said that "He is a good man"  gave a fairer treatment of Him than those who wanted to kill Him.

"the Jews"  Jesus had clearly drawn out the ugliness in the hearts of the religious leaders.  They were watching for Him with evil in their hearts.

"widespread whispering"  Jesus had become the center of attention in Israel.  Even though they had not yet seen Him, they were talking about Him.  How much of what was said was accurate?  Ask people today who Jesus is and you will get many diverse answers.  Certainly, there was this type of diversity in what these whisperers said about Him.  "Others replied, 'No, he deceives the people.'"  These people certainly did not believe that He was the Messiah.  They saw Him as a liar.  As we learn of Jesus, we wonder: How could someone conclude that he was a liar?

These verses give us the crowd dynamics that Jesus stirred up.  Here, we learn of what the ordinary people of Jesus' time thought of Him.

c. Jesus' teaching on the Feast (7:14-24)
"Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, 'How did this man get such learning without having studied?' Jesus answered, 'My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 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. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?' 'You are demon-possessed,' the crowd answered. 'Who is trying to kill you?' Jesus said to them, 'I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do we learn in these verses about who receives Jesus' teaching and who rejects it?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you think that the Jewish religious leaders were so angry that Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath, when they circumcised babies on the Sabbath?

 

 

"Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, 'How did this man get such learning without having studied?'"  Their festival lasted a week plus one Sabbath, so what is recorded here took place four days into the Festival.  Jesus may have waited this long to prevent the Jewish religious leaders from coming up with a plan to take Him into their custody without stirring up the crowds.

Jesus "amazed" the people with His teaching, for He had not had any formal training.  What qualifies someone to able to teach the Bible?  Today, we are very much like the people of Jesus' time, for we often require pastors to have a formal education in a seminary or Bible college.  But, some of the most effective Bible teachers in the history of the church had no formal Bible training.  For example, Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, had no formal Bible training. See also Acts 4:13

Jesus, here, is quite bold.  Though He had none of the training of the Rabbis and Pharisees, He boldly began teaching.  Have any of us today ever done anything like this?  Jesus was bold because he had the authority of One who was the Son of God.  But He said that we also have His authority to proclaim the truth.  "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20) 

Jesus' teaching was different from what they were used to hearing.  They were used to hearing their Rabbis quoting from some Rabbinic authority.  Jesus, instead, had the authority given to Him by His Father.

"Jesus answered, 'My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 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."  Jesus did not claim to have a novel type of teaching that was the product of His own creativity, rather His teaching and His authority came from the Father.  "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it." (John 12:49)

How can we know if Jesus is who He claimed to be and whether or not His words are God's truth?  Jesus gives us the answer in these verses.  If you are willing to obey His teachings, you will discover whether or not He was God's Son who spoke God's truth.  Those who become born-again Christians are those who have been willing to obey Jesus as a way of life.  They have discovered that Jesus' teachings have come from God. 

Why do so many reject the Bible as God's book?  The answer is given here.  it is because they have no desire to do what God wants them to do.  People do not come to God simply because they do not want to come to God.  They want to be the captain of their own ship.  They do not want to acknowledge that God's ways are best and that they are the absolutely best way for them to live.  They do not want Him to be their Lord.  They "refuse to come to" Him "to have life." (John 5:40)

"He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him."  Here is a way we can measure ourselves to see if our motives are pure.  If our motives are impure, we will seek to elevate ourselves in others' eyes and draw attention to ourselves; if our motives are pure, our primary motivation and our only motivation is to elevate God in the eyes of others and to draw attention to Him.  Jesus was perfectly this way.  His total purpose on earth was to elevate His Father.  And, there was "nothing false about" Him.

Years ago, I heard a story.  I might not get the exact details correct, but this is what I heard to the best of my memory.  Two Americans traveled to London.  They wanted to hear two preachers there who were very well-known.  On Sunday morning, they heard the first preacher.  After the service, they proclaimed: "What a great speaker!"  In the evening they heard Charles Spurgeon speak.  After the service, they proclaimed: "What a great God!"  Spurgeon elevated God and not himself.

The religious leaders of Jesus' time spoke on their own and exalted man's contrived viewpoints.  "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)  "Everything they do is done for men to see." (Matthew 23:5a)

"speaks on his own"  The Bible teacher who wants to come up with His own novel ideas, is on his way away from the Bible.  His teaching is directed toward elevating him and his unique teaching.  If he is dynamic and flashy, he may gain a following; but he is leading people to worship him and not leading people to worship God.  May we not be like him.  Instead, may our goal to be to teach what God has provided for us in the Bible, so that God and His ways are elevated.

"Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?' 'You are demon-possessed,' the crowd answered. 'Who is trying to kill you?'"  Jesus states what is taught in the Old Testament: "not one of you keeps the law."  That is a major truth taught in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.  The law was not given as a way of salvation, but as a way to show us our need for salvation.  It was given to us to show that we need to be saved "apart from the law," because we are unable to obey the law.  Paul put it quite clearly in Romans 3:19-23:  "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. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." See also Galatians 2:16, 3:10; Acts 13:38; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 9:3

The people of Israel were about to break God's commandment: "You shall not murder." (Exodus 20:13)  The crowd's response to His accusation was to accuse Him of being "demon-possessed."  They were not compassionately concerned for Him, but they wrote Him off as a mad man.  Yet, we know that He spoke the truth in what He said—and they did murder Him! 

We see throughout the Gospels that Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of men.  The religious leaders and the Jewish people believed they were superior to others because they had God's law and because they felt that they had obeyed it.  "Jesus shows that trusting the law makes one a hypocrite.  For the legalist will condemn in another what he excuses in himself." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Jesus exposes this very hypocrisy in these religious leaders.  They condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, while planning to murder Him. See Matthew 23:25-28; Romans 2:1, 17-24  Certainly, members of this same crowd were among those who would, six months later, yell, "Crucify! Crucify!" (John 19:6)

"Jesus said to them, 'I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.'Jesus addresses the very human tendency to make hurried and poorly-thought-through judgments.  Jesus said that "one miracle" had started this whole plan to kill Him.  He healed one man on the Sabbath and that had resulted in their plot to kill Him. See 5:1-18  This is actually a very human pattern.  Someone is offended by one act of someone and then this root of bitterness "grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Hebrews 12:15b)  Someone lets the sun go down while they are still angry, and gives "the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:26-27)  The devil had definitely gotten "a foothold" in the hearts of these Jewish leaders toward the holy Son of God.  Jesus had performed an act of compassion, but it had offended the Jewish leaders because He had broken their rules in doing it, and had humiliated them in front of their followers.  That is why they were angry with Him.

Jesus goes on to further explain why the healing of someone on the Sabbath was an acceptable practice.  They themselves found that at times even they needed to disobey their own strict and inflexible interpretation of the rules of the Sabbath.  The law of Moses required that they circumcise a newborn baby on the eighth day.  If the eighth day after the birth of a boy fell on the Sabbath, they found themselves in a dilemma.  They were not to work on the Sabbath; yet to obey Moses' law, they needed to do the work of circumcising the boy.  They did choose to circumcise babies on the Sabbath.  Someone who did not take the time to work through the dilemma they faced could conclude they were breaking the Sabbath.

The rite of circumcision was begun during Abraham's time.  "For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring." (Genesis 17:12) See also Genesis 17:9-14, 23-27, 21:4  But, this requirement to circumcise baby boys was also part of the law of Moses.  "On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised." (Leviticus 12:3)

Jesus explains at other times why it was acceptable to His Father for Him to heal 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.'" (Mark 2:27-28) Today, in our hospitals and nursing homes, it is necessary for people to work seven days a week.  God's laws do not prevent these doctors and nurses from doing what people need.  So, it was not wrong for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath.  But, these leaders were stiff-necked and were unwilling to see beyond their bitterness toward 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." (John 5:17-18)

d. Men's response to His teaching (7:25-36)
"At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, 'Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.' Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, 'Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.' At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, 'When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?' The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. Jesus said, 'I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.' The Jews said to one another, 'Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me, and Where I am, you cannot come”?'"

Thought Question:  The Jews had a wonderful opportunity to get to know God while Jesus was with them.  What type of opportunities do we have today that we may not be taking advantage of?

 

 

"At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, 'Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.'"  Here, we are given another insight into the thinking of the ordinary people who saw and heard Jesus.  It goes simply like this: 1) Even though the Jewish leaders had plans to kill Him, He is still alive.  These ordinary people thought, "Did our leaders change their minds?"  2) Have they concluded, then, that He is the Messiah?  3) No, this cannot be true for we know where He was born and where He is from.  No one will know where the Messiah is from.  "All popular Jewish belief believed the Messiah would burst upon the world mysteriously." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

Although the Bible teaches that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which the Jewish leaders knew (see Matthew 2:1-8); the Old Testament teaches nothing about where He would live.  "Passages like Daniel 9:25 and Malachi 3:1 might be interpreted of a sudden appearance, and this line is developed in some of the apocryphal books." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

"Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, 'Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.'"  "Cried out" means that what Jesus said here was not said in a conversational tone.  He "cried out" because He wanted to make it clear that their thinking was leading them away from the truth and not to the truth.  He "cried out" because their dullness of hearing and their fuzziness of thinking was leading them astray.  He wanted to make it clear that they did not know where He was from.

There were other times that He "cried out":  "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)  "Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.'" (John 12:44)   Here, Jesus was saying, "You think 'you know me,' but you do not truly 'know me,' because you do not 'know' the one who 'sent me.'  But Jesus said I do 'know' Him who 'sent me,' 'because I am from him and he sent me.'"

"'Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from.'"  There was sarcasm in His tone.  "So, you think you 'know me.'" 

Why is Jesus so strong in His words?  It because people were not rejecting Him because they could not believe in Him, but because they would not believe in Him.  "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)  "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." (John 12:37) See also 8:19,55

"'but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.'"  Instead of coming to their hasty conclusions and rejecting Him as their Messiah, they should listen to Him because He came from the Father.  For He alone knew the Father and spoke for Him. See 1:18, 8:55, 17:3,25

As we will see in the following verses, they were offended by His words.  "It was a bitter insult to tell God's chosen people that they did not know God." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  As we will see in the next verses, the Jewish leaders' patience with Jesus had run out.

"At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come."  When the truth about Jesus is told in the power of God's Spirit, there will always be two responses: some will hate you for it and some will believe.  "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. And who is equal to such a task?" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)  Here, Jesus tells the truth about Himself and one group among the listeners hated Him and "tried to seize him."  And although they would ultimately be successful and "seize him," they were unsuccessful at this time, "because his time had not yet come."

"Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, 'When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?'"  When the truth is told to a crowd there will be some who believe"He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:11-12)

"The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him."  The belief in Jesus among the crowds pushed the religious leaders over the top.  Now is the time for action against this interloper in their once comfortable religious empire.  It was time to eradicate this One who was beginning to topple their religious empire.

"the chief priests and the Pharisees"  "The chief priests" were the liberal religious rulers and "the Pharisees" were the legalistic religious lawyers.  These two groups were opposed to each other in much the same as right wing conservatives and left wing liberals are opposed to each other.  Yet, they stood together in opposing Jesus and in desiring that He be eradicated from Israel.  "Mutual arch enemies—Pharisees and Sadducees—are entirely willing to unite in their common opposition to Jesus (cf. Lk. 23:12; Acts 4:27)." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

"Jesus said, 'I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.' The Jews said to one another, 'Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me, and Where I am, you cannot come”?'Jesus tells the crowd that He would not be with them much longer.  They needed to take advantage of the opportunity that was before them.  "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near." (Isaiah 55:6)

Instead of receiving Jesus' warning, they did not understand Him.  They may have been mocking Him when they said that He might mean that He was going into the world of the Greeks to teach.  Then, that would have meant that they were mocking Him by saying that He would need to go into the world of the Greeks and teach the Jews there, for He had failed in reaching the Jews in Israel.  Another possibility is that they were simply puzzled by what He had said.  There were Jews throughout the world at that time.  Some had left Israel during times of persecution and still others had migrated to other countries.

"I go to the one who sent me.'"  Jesus, of course, was speaking of His return to the Father "who sent" Him—His return to heaven. See 8:14,21, 13:3,33,36, 14:28, 16:10,17

We also need not to miss our opportunities to "seek the Lord while he may be found." (Isaiah 55:6)  May we have no regrets because we missed opportunities to learn, grow, and serve.

e. Jesus offers God water. (7:37-44)
"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. On hearing his words, some of the people said, 'Surely this man is the Prophet.' Others said, 'He is the Christ.' Still others asked, 'How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?' Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him."

Thought Question:  Do you believe that you are presently experiencing what Jesus predicted about the Holy Spirit, both in your experience and in your ministry to others?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"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.

"Traditionally, the Feast had been a seven-day celebration.  During each of those seven days, one of the chief priests would lead a procession through the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Siloam.  He filled the golden pitcher from the waters of the pool and carried it back to the temple and poured it over the altar.  This ceremony served to remind the people of the days in the wilderness when God through Moses gave them water out of a rock.  But this last day, the greatest day of the Feast, was actually an eighth day, which had been tacked on to the original seven-day Feast.  On this day, there was no ceremony of pouring water over the altar.  So Jesus seized the opportunity to present Himself as a symbol." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."
Roberston, though, points out that it is not certain as to whether the ritual of the pouring of the water took place on the eighth day of the feast.  "It is uncertain whether the libations were made upon the eighth day.  If they were not made, the significant cessation of the striking rite on this one day of the feast would give a still more fitting occasion for the words." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press.  He quotes Westcott."  There is also uncertainty about whether "the last and greatest day of the Feast" was the seventh or the eighth day of the Feast.  "The seventh day was, indeed, great, for:  a. On this day there were seven processions around the altar; on preceding days only one per day.  b. In these processions the priests chanted, 'O then, work now salvation, Jehovah! O Jehovah, send now prosperity." (Ps 118:25)  Hence, the seventh day, when this passage is chanted so many times is called the day of The Great Hosannah." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  The NIV Study Bible note says that it could have been "Either the seventh or the eighth day."  These uncertainties do not, however, weaken the meaning of Jesus' words.  The water that was so much a part of this Feast pointed to the Holy Spirit that was soon to be given to those who believed in Jesus as their Messiah.  Jesus picked the best time to cry out and proclaim this truth.  Jesus offered the true and living water.  The rock in the wilderness that had supplied Israel with water symbolized Jesus giving His people the Holy Spirit.  In the wilderness, the people "drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:4)

"If anyone is thirsty"  We need to remember that Israel was an arid country without piped in water.  The type of thirst that Jesus speaks of here is a much greater thirst then we are used to.  It is the type of thirst that produces a craving that captures the total of one's thoughts and concerns.  Jesus cried out that if anyone had this type of thirst, that he should believe in Him and "streams of living water will flow from within him." 

John explains that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit who was to be given to believers on the day of Pentecost. See Acts 2;1-13  From that day forward, with the exceptions of some transitional cases (see Acts 8:1-17, 19:1-17), all believers have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the moment that they believed. See Ephesians 4:30; Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 3:16, 6:19-20

"streams of living water will flow from within him."  Jesus is saying more than He says in Matthew 5:6, where He says: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."  Jesus is stating more than we "will be filled" or satisfied.  He is saying that water will flow out of us to others.  We will be like a spring of "water" that will refresh others.  It will be an unending source of blessing to others, just as Jesus was a continual blessing to others.  This infinite supply comes from the infinite Holy Spirit.

"as the Scripture has said," "Steams of living water will flow from him" is not an exact quote from the Old Testament.  Here is a list of some verses that Jesus may have been referring to: Psalm  46:4-5; Joel 2:28-29; Ezekiel 36:26-27; and Zechariah 14:8.  My choices are Joel 2:28-29 and Ezekiel 36:26-27: "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days." (Joel 2:28-29)  "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 36:26-27) See also Isaiah 44:3, 55:1-2; Revelation 22:17

In 7:37, "thirst," "come to me," and "drink" are in the present tense describing a continual thirsting, continual coming to Him, and a continual drinking.  The church in Laodicea described in Revelation 3:14-22 lacked this thirst for God.  Jesus called them "lukewarm." (Revelation 3:16)  Why do some Christians grow rapidly and others grow little or not at all?  For some time, I have believed it is the presence of a greater thirst for God or the absence of a thirst for God that is the difference.  Those who have a continual thirst for God, continually come to Him to have that thirst quenched.  And it is those who continually drink from God's Spirit that have His Spirit continually flowing from them.  And it is from them, that the Spirit continually refreshes and blesses others.

"On hearing his words, some of the people said, 'Surely this man is the Prophet.' Others said, 'He is the Christ.' Still others asked, 'How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?' Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.Once again, we learn what the people in the crowds thought of Jesus.  Some were moving toward believing in Him: "Surely this man is the Prophet."  The "prophet" they were speaking of is described in Deuteronomy 18:15: "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)  Peter identifies this "prophet" with Jesus Christ in Acts 3:21-23: "He [Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'" 

"Others said, 'He is the Christ.'"  These believed that he was the promised Messiah.  "Still others asked, 'How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?'"  Their questioning that the Messiah could come "from Galilee" probably was motivated by pride: "How can the Messiah come from there?  The Bible predicts that He will come from Judea—our part of the world."

They were familiar with the following predictions about the Messiah.  The Messiah was to come through the line of Jesse, David's father.  "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist." (Isaiah 11:1-5)  The Messiah would come through the line of David.  "You said, 'I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, “I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.”' Selah" (Psalm 89:3-4)  The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)  Bethlehem is the town where David lived. "If your father misses me at all, tell him, 'David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.'" (1 Samuel 20:6)  So, in their minds, the Messiah could not have come "from Galilee," when He was predicted to come from David's part of Israel. See also 6:42 and 7:27

"Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.And the same has been true throughout time: people are "divided because of Jesus."  Some wanted to seize him, "but no one laid a hand on him."  What had He done to deserve being seized?  The answer is "nothing."  The problem was not with Him, but with what was in the hearts of those who wanted to seize Him.  They are the ones who should have been seized and arrested.  Jesus was leading the people toward God; those who were seeking "to seize" Him were leading the people away from God and toward self-righteousness.

f. The opposition intensifies. (7:45-52)
"Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, 'Why didn’t you bring him in?' 'No one ever spoke the way this man does,' the guards declared. 'You mean he has deceived you also?' the Pharisees retorted. 'Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.' Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 'Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?' They replied, 'Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.'"

Thought Question:  Do you believe Nicodemus was courageous in what he said or cowardly?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, 'Why didn’t you bring him in?' 'No one ever spoke the way this man does,' the guards declared. 'You mean he has deceived you also?' the Pharisees retorted. 'Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.'"  Here again there is a contrast between those who were being drawn to
Christ and those who were coldly rejecting Him.  The "temple guards" recognized that Jesus was no ordinary man.  "No one ever spoke the way this man does."  This statement remains true today.  When you read Jesus' words, you read line after line of accurate, profound, and deeply penetrating truths.  People should read His words and say: "No one ever spoke the way this man does."  Also, He spoke of being sent from God.  "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.'" (John 6:28-29)  The "temple guards" stated that He spoke with extraordinary authority.  We see it also by what happened when the "temple guards" came to arrest Jesus.  "Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?'  'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'I am he,' Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, 'I am he,' they drew back and fell to the ground." (John 18:2-6)  The "temple guards" were among those who came to arrest Him.  "Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, 'Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?'" (Luke 22:52)

"'You mean he has deceived you also?' the Pharisees retorted. 'Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.'"  Here, we see the arrogance of these religious leaders.  They saw themselves as being in a much higher class than the pitiful normal people.  Actually, they were blinded by their pride.  But, there were those in the crowd whom they looked down on who saw Jesus much more clearly than they did.

This pattern of religious leaders snobbishly looking down with contempt at the ordinary people has occurred throughout time.  Through much of the history of the Roman Catholic church, the Scriptures were only available to those who could read and understand Latin.  Seminary graduates today, can despise those who have not had the theological training that they have had.  Paul understood this tendency.  "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." (1 Corinthians 8:1b)  A true knowledge of the Bible will lead to humility, not to pride and conceit.  "'Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.' Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”" (Deuteronomy 27:26)  And none of us is able to "uphold the words of" God's "law"!  But the Pharisees saw themselves as perfectly obeying the law and not cursed; but they saw the ordinary people as disobeying the law and under a curse.  Here, they say, "this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.'"  So, they felt that they had every reason to feel superior to the ordinary person.

It is still true today that arrogant conceit keeps people from seeing who Jesus is.  The conceited college professor does not see who Jesus is, while an uneducated man, woman, or child may see clearly that He is the one and only Son of God.

"Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 'Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?' They replied, 'Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.'"  "Nicodemus" accused them of not treating Jesus in a fair way, and of breaking the very law that they said that they had perfectly obeyed.  "Nicodemus," here, does not proclaim his faith in Jesus.  He is still careful not to say something that will get him thrown out of his leadership position among the religious leaders.  But, he does bring up a legal point in their law that they were ignoring.  "Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness." (Exodus 23:1)  "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. If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." (Deuteronomy 19:15-21)  "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." (Micah 6:8)

Do the other religious leaders discuss this point of law with him?  No, they do what is called, "cross-arguing."  They bring up another subject and attack him.  "'Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.'They were wrong, for a prophet did come from Galilee.  Jonah, for example, came from Galilee.  "He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher." (2 Kings 14:25)  "Gath Hepher was located in the tribe of Zebulun northeast of Nazareth." "NIV Study Bible Note.  "As a matter of fact, Jonah, Hosea, Nahum, possibly also Elijah, Elisha, and Amos came from Galilee." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  These Pharisees' pride in their Judean birth blurred their ability to believe that a "prophet" could come from "Galilee."  Sometimes religious leaders win not through being reasonable, but through anger and intimidation.  "This is an ancient debate trick: when you cannot answer the argument, attack the speaker." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."

Tenney makes a good point about Nicodemus' less than strong defense of Jesus.  "Before casting aspersions upon him because he did not instantly and warmly espouse Jesus' cause, one should remember that he probably stood alone among a group of  unscrupulous men who would turn on him at the slightest provocation.  He made a plea for fair play, perhaps as a mean of trying the temper." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  The religious leaders "denied that any important person believed on Jesus." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  In spite of the opposition that he knew his question would stir up, Nicodemus was willing to take an unpopular stand.  He had a mixture of both timidity and courage.  Many of us can identify with him on this.

14. The woman caught in adultery (7:53-8:11)
"Then each went to his own home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, sir,' she said. 'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'"

Thought Question:  What do you learn about these Pharisees from what they did here?

 

 

This is one of the two large sections of the New Testament where even evangelical Bible scholars are not sure whether or not they were in the original New Testament.  The other large section that evangelical Bible scholars are not sure about whether or not it was in the original New Testament text is Mark 16:9-20.  Here are some of the arguments for this part of John 8 not being part of the New Testament canon: 1) It was absent from almost all of the earliest manuscripts.  2) In manuscripts in which it is contained, it is according to Leon Morris, located at John 7:36, 7:44, 21:25, and after Luke 21:38.  3. John 7:52 and John 8:12 (after these verses) flow together.  So, these verses can be omitted without disturbing the flow of the text.  4. There are many variants in this section, indicating possibly that copyists were not as careful with it.  5. Most of the early Christians do not mention it.  Here, are the arguments for it being part of the New Testament canon.  1. Jerome included it in the Latin Vulgate in the fourth century.  2. Eusebius says that Papias, a disciple of the apostle John, talked about it around A.D. 100  3. It is in all later manuscripts.  It harmonizes with John 8:15.  5. Ambrose and Augustine in the later fourth and early fifth century said that it was removed from the Bible because it seemed to condone adultery.  7. Chapters 3-9 start with a story: chapter 3-Nicodemus; chapter 4-the woman at the well; chapter 5-the healing of the invalid; chapter 6-the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on the water; chapter 7-Jesus and His brothers; chapter 8-woman caught in adultery; and chapter 9-the healing of the blind man.

Thought Question:  On the basis of the arguments for and against these verses being part of the original New Testament canon, do you believe it should be part of our Bible or not be part our Bible?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Should it be part of the New Testament canon and part of the inspired Bible?  I personally believe that answer is, "Yes."  It if it is not part of the Bible, one of Jesus' most memorable sayings would also not be part of the Bible: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."  Also, Ambrose's and Augustine's explanation that it was removed because it seems to condone adultery is a reasonable explanation for why it was omitted for a while.

"Then each went to his own home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him."

We see here cold-religious-legalism's attitude toward those who sin.  It is one many ugly sides of man.  It is when another person's sin makes us feel superior to him or her.  She broke God's law, so now she is sub-human.  Years ago, someone spoke down at someone who was about to go to be hanged.  "When George Whitfield saw the criminal on the way to the gallows, he uttered the famous sentence: 'There but for the grace of God go I.' "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press. (p.5)"  These religious leaders who tested Jesus were not at all like George Whitfield.  They did not feel like they needed the grace of God at all.  "We would never have sinned like this woman sinned," they thought.

"'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.'"  The immediate question, then, is "Where is the man who also committed adultery?"  It appears that they had one standard for a woman who committed adultery and another standard for a man who committed adultery.  They were not really interested in cleansing Israel of sin, for this man's sin appears to have been overlooked.

The Pharisees were correct in the punishment, for the Old Testament taught that the punishment for adultery was stoning.  "If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10)  "If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel." (Deuteronomy 22:22) See also Deuteronomy 22:23-24; Ezekiel 23:43-47

"They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him."  Were these men of God?  Is God eager to catch us doing wrong?  Is God eager to trap us?  Ray Stedman quotes C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity to describe what these religious leaders were like: "the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, or bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, any backbiting; the pleasure of power, of hatred. . . . that is why the self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church is nearer to hell than a prostitute.  But, of course, it is better to be neither." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

They felt that their question put Jesus in a dilemma.  For no matter how He answered they would have won.  If He said, "Yes, she should be stoned" He would no longer be the one who came to show love, mercy, and grace.  Instead, from that day forward, He would be known as supporting that woman's death.  If He said, "No, she should not be stoned," He would be One who was opposed to God's law as it is it taught in the Old Testament.  They had Him, no matter how He answered!  He could not win.  Furthermore, since only the Romans could administer the death penalty, he would be saying that He was for doing what the Romans would not allow.  They had Him!  He could not win.  Also, it would appear that He was condoning adultery. See also Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:2; Luke 20:20

"But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground."  What did Jesus "write on the ground"?  John does not tell us, so we will never know this side of heaven.  But, the one thing that would have led to the religious leaders backing off from their questioning of Him as if they were perfect and holy was if He wrote their sins on the ground—possibly the names of women with whom they had committed adultery.  Barclay reports that a latter manuscript states that Jesus was writing down the sins of the men who were accusing the woman.  But whatever He wrote, it ultimately led them to no longer accuse  the woman and to no longer try to trap Jesus.

"At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there."  If He did write their sins in the dirt, He also may have started with the older men.  That would explain why they left first.

"'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'" See Deuteronomy 17:7  "It was a first principle of Jesus that only the man who is without fault has the right to express judgment on the faults of others. 'Judge not,' said Jesus, 'that you be not judged' (Matthew 7:1).  He said that the man who attempted to judge his brother was like a man with a plank in his own eye trying to take a speck of dust out of someone else's eye (Matthew 7:3-5).  One of the commonest faults in life is that so many of us demand standards from others that we never even try to meet ourselves; and so many of us condemn faults in others which are glaringly obvious in our lives.  The qualification for judging is not knowledge—we all possess that; it is achievement in goodness—none of us is perfect there. . . . It was also a first principle with Jesus that our first emotion towards anyone who has made a mistake should be pity . . . When we are confronted with someone who has made a mistake, our first feeling ought to be not, 'I'll have nothing more to do with someone who could act like that,' but 'What can I do to help?' . . . Quite simply, we must always extend to others the same compassionate pity we would wish to be extended to ourselves if we were involved in a like situation." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

This has been a longer quotation than I usually make, but it was so well said that I wished it to be available in its full length.  There is a place for judging (see I Corinthians 5), but there is no place in true Christianity for an arrogant judgmental spirit.  He (or she) who "thinks he is something when he is nothing, . . . deceives himself." (Galatians 6:3)  Jesus deals first with the religious leaders' "plank in the eye" before He deals with the woman.

"Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, sir,' she said. 'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'Ray Stedman makes it clear that Jesus was not condoning the woman's adultery: "Adultery is no minor matter.  It is a very serious sin.  It destroys relationships that have been bonded by the holy sacrament of marriage.  It involves the worst and most sordid kinds of lies.  It involves betrayal.  It defiles the marriage bed.  It hurts spouses, it injures children, it brings spiritual emotional damage to those who engage in it, and it leads to a breakdown of the fabric of our society.  There is a very good reason that God has outlawed the act of adultery in His law." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

The law, though, will not bring an end to adultery.  What is needed is a change on the inside of those who are genuinely repentant.  Jesus' forgiveness and His new life alone will provide the sinner with a true second chance.  This woman received that second chance:  "'Go now and leave your life of sin.'"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)  The law condemns.  Jesus offers us freedom from the condemnation and slavery of sin.  Paul sums it up in this way: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Romans 8:1-5)

This woman undoubtedly saw the condemnation that she deserved in the judgmental hearts of the Pharisees; but then she saw the mercy she needed in the heart of Jesus.  She responded to His mercy just like all who have turned to Jesus in brokenness, and she gratefully received His mercy.  Jesus did not excuse this woman's sin; as He does not excuse our sin.  He was about to die for her sins, just as he has died for our sins.

15. Jesus the light of the world (8:12-59)

a. Jesus defends Himself against those who rejected Him. (8:12-30)

(1) Jesus defends Himself against attack #1 (8:12-18)
"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. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 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.'"

Thought Question:  How has Jesus being the "light of the world" impacted your life?

 

 

"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.'"  This is the third time that Jesus has been described as being "light." See 1:4-9, 3:19-21  Here Jesus declares, "I am the light of the world."  When He says, "I am," He is unashamedly declaring Himself to be the unique "I am."  It is God's name.  "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'" (John 8:58)  He is also saying here that He is uniquely "the light of the world."  No one else can make that claim.  He is not saying that He is a light in the world, but that He is "the light of the world." 

This is the second of His "I am" statements. The other times He describes Himself as "I am" are as follows: "I am the bread of life" (6:35); "I am the gate" (10:7,9); "I am the good shepherd" (10:11,14); "I am the resurrection and the life" (11:25); "I am the way and the truth and the life" (14:60; and "I am the true vine" (15:1).  If anybody today made any of these claims, we would think that He is either an extreme egotist, a false messiah, a con artist, insane, or all of the above.  Those in Jesus 's time could have thought the same.  Their last alternative is that He was and is God's one and only Son.

Why did Jesus proclaim Himself to be "the light of the world" at this particular time?  The Feast of Tabernacles celebrated God taking care of Israel in the wilderness.  Part of this celebration included the celebration of how God had led Israel by a "pillar of fire."  "By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." (Exodus 13:21-22)  A part of the celebration at the Feast of Tabernacles was the lighting of a large candelabra in the women's court of the temple as a remembrance of God leading Israel by the "pillar of fire."  At the time when Jesus claims to be "the light of the world," Bible scholars believe that the candelabras were no longer lit.  God had led Israel by the "pillar of fire"; now, Jesus declares that He would lead them and enlighten their path in life if they followed His leadership.

"Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."  What did Jesus mean by "never walk in darkness"?  First of all, as Morris observes, the "follows me" is a "present participle with its idea of continuous following.  Jesus is speaking of whole-hearted discipleship not casual adherence." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

A walk in the light and a "walk in darkness" are contrasted by John in I John 1:5-10: "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."  Darkness replaces light when we choose sin and deny that it is sin—that is how we darken our mind.  We blind our minds to the truth and choose to walk in darkness.  In Jesus' light we confess what is true—we confess it when we sin and we confess our fallenness before a holy God.  We seek His cleansing and we seek to walk in the truth.

"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." (John 3:19-20)  "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." (Ephesians 5:8-12)

If we follow the sun so that it never sets, we will never walk in physical darkness.  If we continually follow Jesus the Son, we will also "never walk in darkness."  Jesus came into a world of moral darkness and turned on the lights.

"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. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 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.'Although Jesus lit up the world in His time, and we can light up the world in our time, most do not want the light of Jesus to expose their sins.  Boice offers three ways man can attack when they do not want their moral and spiritual darkness exposed: 1) "eliminate" the one pointing out the wrong; (2) "discredit" him; (3) "discount" what he says.  "Here are the three lines of  attack for anyone who is unscrupulous." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Those three methods are used by Jesus' enemies.  They were trying to arrest and kill Him.  Ultimately, they were successful.  They tried to trap Him and "discredit" Him with the lady caught in adultery.  Now, they are trying to "discount" his "testimony" based on a legal point.  Today, we would call it "political maneuvering."

They told Jesus that they did not need to listen to Him or give any credence to His "testimony" about Himself, for according to the law a one-man testimony was not valid.  How does Jesus respond to their attempt to "discount" what he said about Himself when He said that He is "the light of the world"?  Jesus alone knew whether He was divine or not.  He alone knew whether or not He came from heaven and was sent by the Father.  He was the best judge of whether or not He was God's one and only Son.  When it comes to making a judgment about Him, they were way out of their league.  The Son of God stood before them and they were going to decide whether or not that was true by using legal standards that apply to humans, but do not apply to God.

"'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.'Although it was not necessary, Jesus subordinates Himself to men's standards and provides the second witness—His Father "who sent" Him. See Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15  On the question of whether or not He is the Son of God, the best two witnesses are the God the Father and God the Son.  Even an angel from heaven was not a totally dependable witness.  "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (II Corinthians 11:14)

"'You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone.'"  Men are never completely just judges.  Paul did not even trust his own judgments about himself.  "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." (1 Corinthians 4:3-5)  Also, Jesus did not come to earth with the primary purpose to judge mankind.  "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)  "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." (John 12:47)

Other translations have, you judge "the flesh" rather than "by human standards."  That is the more literal translation, and it implies that we men have fleshly limitations in our judgments.  God is not limited with these fleshly limitations.

What was missed by Jesus' opponents is that "light" is its own witness.  When a light is turned on in a bright room, we do not need to start a court case to determine whether or not the light is on or not.  We can tell immediately that the light is on.  Jesus' pure moral life of God should have attracted their attention by itself.  Instead, they were repulsed by it.

How does this apply to us?  We are not to trust our own thinking in the things of God.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)  If we come to Him humbly, we will know who He is and we will trust His words.  "Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you." (John 17:7)

(2) Attack #2 and Jesus' response (8:19-20)
"Then they asked him, 'Where is your father?' 'You do not know me or my Father,' Jesus replied. 'If you knew me, you would know my Father also.' 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."

Thought Questions:  How could these religious leaders know so much about the Bible and not know God? (Could that happen today?)

 

 

"Then they asked him, 'Where is your father?' 'You do not know me or my Father,' Jesus replied. 'If you knew me, you would know my Father also.'Certainly, they were ridiculing Him: "Where is your father?  We do not see him."  Ridicule reveals a deliberate unwillingness to listen.  In the book of Proverbs, one who is like this is described as a fool.  "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." (Proverbs 18:2)  "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." (Proverbs 12:15)

Jesus' response to them is, "You do not know me or my Father . . .If you knew me, you would know my Father also."  They did not "know" Him or His "Father" because they had no real interest in knowing God.  This is amazing, for they were the religious leaders of Israel.  How could they know so much about the Bible and not know God?  Their religion was not directed toward knowing God, but toward personal advancement.  As a result, it would never lead them to God.  As Jesus said later, they did not know God because their real father was the devil. See 8:44

Can this type of thing happen today?  Certainly, it can.  Not every leader in a church is a leader in that church because he is leading others to better know God.  Still today, there are those who lead in churches for personal advancement.  For some, it is obvious that they do not know God; for others, it is not so obvious.

"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.The "temple area" where Jesus was speaking was not the place where the money from the offerings was stored, but the place where the people put their "offerings."  "This was part of the court of women (which got its name from the fact that women as well as men were permitted to enter it).  There were thirteen trumpet-shaped collection boxes there." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co." See Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4

"Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.They wanted to seize Him, yet they were not able to do it.  The invisible hand of God prevented them from seizing Him.  There are times when God prevents things from happening to His people and there are times when He allows people to successfully take action against His people.  Peter was miraculously rescued from jail, but the apostle James was killed.  What is the difference?  God has sovereign purposes which we will not understand on this side of heaven.  Jesus was not seized because it was not "his time." 

3. Attack #3 and Jesus' response (8:21-24)
"Once more Jesus said to them, 'I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.' This made the Jews ask, 'Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, “Where I go, you cannot come”?' But he continued, 'You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.'"

Thought Question:  Do you believe that Jesus is saying these words to appeal to them or is it too late for them and their doom is certain?

 

 

"Once more Jesus said to them, 'I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.' This made the Jews ask, 'Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, “Where I go, you cannot come”?'Were the Pharisees concerned that He might kill Himself?  No, they said these words with contempt and scorn.  They had no interest in the true meaning of His words.

"But he continued, 'You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.'"His words are not words of anger or rejection or condemnation.  He is pleading with them to open their eyes and live!  But in their pride they willfully choose blindness." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

Standing before them is their Savior come from heaven, and they are blind to this truth.  Instead of falling at His feet and listening to His words from heaven, they ridicule Him.  Yet, He patiently perseveres in speaking and reasoning with them; for rejecting Him means eternity in hell for them.  He had come from heaven and would return soon to heaven.  If they believed in Him, they would one day go there also.  Yet, at this time, they coldly rejected Him.

Jesus had warned them, as we also need to warn people today.  "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself." (Ezekiel 3:17-19) See Ezekiel 33:1-9

"die in your sins."To die in your sins means to die with the burden of one's sins upon oneself and, as a result, to be forced to bear the penalty of sin, which is spiritual death. . . To die in sin is to die separated from God and to remain so forever." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

4. Attack #4 and Jesus' response (8:25-30)
"'Who are you?' they asked. 'Just what I have been claiming all along,' Jesus replied. 'I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.' They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 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. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.' Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him."

Thought Question:  What is meant by Jesus being "lifted up" and how will that lead to people knowing who He is?

 

 

"'Who are you?' they asked. 'Just what I have been claiming all along,' Jesus replied. 'I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.' They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father."  Jesus had been clearly proclaiming He was sent from God His Father, and, yet, they ask Him to tell Him who He is.  But, He patiently repeats that the One who sent Him "is reliable."  Still, they do not get it.  "They did not understand that he was telling them about the Father."  "Scornfully. they asked, 'Who are you?'  "Who do you think you are to make such claims?'  "The pronoun 'is scornfully emphatic' (Plummer) and placed first.  'You, who are you to be saying such things?' is the force of it." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  

"'I have much to say in judgment of you."  Jesus does not at this time give them His holy judgment of them.  He bears with them for the moment.  They will hear the Father's perspective on their arrogant rejection of His Son later.  "'I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.' 'Abraham is our father,' they answered. 'If you were Abraham’s children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.' 'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested. 'The only Father we have is God himself.' 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.'" (John 8:37-44) See also Matthew 23

"'Just what I have been claiming all along,"  "There is an emphatic tone in the original language that few English translations manage to convey.  Jesus' reply should actually be translated. 'I am absolutely and fundamentally what I have told you all along." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

"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."  A Christian singer, Dallas Holm, at a concert that I attended said, "Is there any way God could have shown us He loves in a better way than by what Jesus did on the cross for us?"  The answer is, "No."  When Jesus was "lifted up" on the cross, He was also lifted up in the eyes of those who have believed in Him.  For, we see in what the Father allowed to be done to Him, the greatest example of love and of God's love for us.  "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) See 12:23, 31, 17:1 where Jesus' death is described as exalting, lifting up, and glorifying Him.

"There are different words in Greek that are translated as 'lifted up' in English.  Most common are airo and various compounds based on it—egeiro, espairo, and so on.  John does not use these words in these verses we are studying.  Instead, he uses the verb hupsoo which means 'to exalt' or 'to elevate.'  The overtones of this word shows that John is thinking of Christ's glorification even as he writes of his crucifixion, thereby indicating that the cross, as the first step of His glorification, becomes a proof of Christ's teaching." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Those who put their faith in His death on the cross realize that it was not just a man who hung there, but the Son of God.  A Roman soldier who was there recognized who He is: "And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God!'" (Mark 15:39)  But even those who rejected Him during His lifetime will one day bow their knee to Him.  "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:8-11)

Two passages that also speak of Jesus being lifted up, and give meaning to Jesus' words here about being "lifted up" are as follows:  "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." (John 3:14-15)  "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32)  His being "lifted up" will provide an opportunity for all men to be saved.  Jesus' death on the cross was absolutely necessary before anyone could be saved.  No one else's death would have been a sufficient payment for the sins of all mankind.

 "The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.Jesus, God's Son, always did what His Father desired Him to do, even though it led to Him dying a horrible death when He was "lifted up."  "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8)

"he has not left me alone,"  Jesus "has not left" us alone either.  "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)  There was an unbroken communion between the Father and the Son during Jesus' time of ministry on this earth.  Jesus also wants us to have this type of communion with Him.  "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. . . . If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:5, 7-8)

"Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.As the Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13 teaches, not all those that we share the gospel with are hardened soil.  There are also those who are like well-plowed and good soil who hear and receive the gospel message.  There were those who listened to Jesus on this day and received the words that He said and believed on Him.

b. Jesus tells them the truth about themselves and they lashed out against them. (8:31-59)

(1) Jesus tells them they are slaves and that He can set them free.      (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.'"

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses, how can you know whether or not you are "really" Jesus' disciple? (What is meant by "hold to my teaching"?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How does "the truth" "set" us "free"?

 

 

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples."  In the verse before these verses, we told, "many put their faith in him."  Were they truly Jesus' "disciples"?  Here, Jesus describes those who "are really" His "disciples": " 'If you hold to my teaching."  What does He mean by "my teaching"?  There are some verses in Hebrews that make the same statement of truth that Jesus states here, but in different words: "But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast." (Hebrews 3:6)  "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." (Hebrews 3:14)  James also describes what Jesus says here: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25)  We show whether or not our faith is genuine by whether or not we live according to it.  "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:17)

There were those "who believed him" on that day, but "Jesus' words . . . are meant to drive home to formal and casual adherents something of the meaning of true discipleship.  If men in any sense believe in Him, it is important that they be led to see what real faith means." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

The Bible is meant to be treated differently than any other book.  We can read other books for intellectual learning, but the Bible is God's truth, and it is to be read, understood, and then obeyed—God's way of life is to become our way of life.  Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is the testimony of a man that loved God's word, sought to understand it, and made a wholehearted effort to obey it.  "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts." (Psalm 119:97-100)

"We accept church members on profession of trust in Christ.  Continuance in the word (teaching) process proves the sincerity or insincerity of the profession.  It is the acid test of life." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

We can tell someone is a Christian by a changed direction of life.  Paul was able to tell that those he had shared the gospel with were Christians by the reports he received of how they were living in a completely different way than before.  "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints." (Colossians 1:3-4)  "You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, . . ." (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9)

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.Ray Stedman defines freedom as "the opportunity to be all you were meant to be." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  It is not freedom to do anything you want to do, but freedom to be "all you were meant to be."

It is only by continuing to do what God teaches us to do in the Bible, that we are "set" "free."  There is no way we can be truly "free" without holding to Jesus' teachings.

"know the truth,"  "What, then, is the truth?  Truth is the nature of things as they really are.  Truth is seeing through all the illusions, the dreams, the wishful thinking, the facades, and the phoniness.  Truth is getting down to the underlying reality, the heart of the matter—to that which really is." "Stedman"  God's truth sets us free from condemnation, selfishness, worry, and hate. See Romans 6:18, 8:1-2; Galatians 5:1

(2) The Jews' rejection of Jesus' words: "We are already free and are not slaves!" (8:33)
"They answered him, 'We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?'"

When a slave in the time of the Roman Empire was told that he could go free, it was a wonderful offer.  Jesus offered how His Jewish listeners could be set free, but they did not see it as a wonderful offer.  Their response was that they had "never been slaves of anyone."  First of all, throughout their history they had been slaves of many countries.  The most obvious example is their slavery as a country to Egypt and to its Pharaohs.  Also, the book of Judges records their slaveries to a number of nations.  Still other countries conquered and held them as slaves, such as Assyria and Babylon.  And even in Jesus' time, they were under the heavy hand of the Roman Emperor.

Jesus, though, was not talking about a slavery to countries and people, but He was talking about a slavery to their own sinful natures.  This type of slavery is much worse, for it never leaves the enslaved person alone and it enslaves our thoughts and desires.

"We are Abraham’s descendants"  The Jews took great pride in their heritage.  They felt superior to all races; for, after all, God had chosen them when He chose their ancestor Abraham.  Even though they were in bondage to Rome, in their hearts they were not in bondage.  They did not see that in their hearts they were in bondage to sin, as one of their greatest prophets had told them:  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

Israel missed one of the greatest teachings of the Old Testament—they were completely unable to obey God's commandments because their flesh was in rebellion against God and His ways.  "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)

(3) You are a slave to sin. (8:34)
"Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'Members of Alcoholics Anonymous admit that they are powerless over alcohol.  This is the first step and biggest step in their recovery process.  The first step in becoming a follower of Christ is to admit that we are absolutely powerless over sin.  We are powerless to control sin in our lives.  We each are "a slave to sin."  Jesus told them not what they wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear.

Paul made the same statement in Romans 6.  When we become a Christian, we choose slavery to Christ over slavery to sin.  "Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness." (Romans 6:16-20)

"who sins"  "Note the use of poion (present active participle, continuous habit or practice), not poiesas (aorist active participle for single act), precisely as in I John 3:4-8." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  Simply put, Jesus is not describing a single act of sin, but a continuous practice of sin.  Jesus is not speaking of a single sin, but a regular choosing of sin.  An alcoholic is not someone who once took a drink of alcohol, but someone whose whole life is filled and dominated by alcohol.  A sinaholic is someone whose life is dominated by sin.  Apart from God's Spirit's empowering us to choose God's desires over sin's desires, we are all sinaholics.  "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (Galatians 5:16-18)  "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." (Romans 8:5-8)

These Jews are like all of us.  We believe at first that we can choose to obey God if we wish, until we try to obey God.  But the truth is that we are unable to obey God, no matter how hard we try.  The Christian has two choices, to follow after the desires of the flesh or to follow after the desires of the Spirit.  There is no third option to obey God without the enabling of God's Spirit.

Paul tried this as described in Romans chapter seven.  His conclusion: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:15-24)  As it says in Romans 6, our two choices are slavery to sin or slavery to God.

(4) The Son can set you free. (8:35-36)
"Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

Thought Question:  How has the Son set you free?

 

 

"Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.The Jews thought that they were members of God's eternal family because they were descendents of Abraham.  Instead, Jesus says here that they were like slaves and were not part of God's family.  They would not be part of God's family until He, "the Son," set them "free." 

"free indeed."  "If the Son sets you free, you will be" truly "free."  The Jews thought they were "free," but they did not understand that they were slaves of sin.  Jesus offered them and us a true freedom—a freedom from sin's control in their and our lives.

(5) You are not Abraham's or God's children. (8:37-41)
"'I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.' 'Abraham is our father,' they answered. 'If you were Abraham’s children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.' 'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested. 'The only Father we have is God himself.'"

Thought Question:  When do you believe that Abraham received Jesus and did the opposite of what these religious leaders were doing?

 

 

"'I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.'"  What was in their hearts revealed who their father really was.  The murder that they had in their hearts toward Jesus revealed who really was their father.

"'no room for my word.'"  Jesus told them the truth, but because they did not believe they had a need for a Savior, they resented what He had to say to them.  The same is true today.  Those who pridefully see no need for a Savior resent the simple gospel message.  They also have "no room" for God's word in their lives.

"'I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.'"  What Jesus said came straight from heaven.  What they had in their hearts came straight from hell.

"'Abraham is our father,' they answered. 'If you were Abraham’s children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.'"  In Genesis 18, Abraham received three visitors.  One of those visitors is called "the Lord." (Genesis 18:10,13,17,20,22, 26,32,33)  Certainly, the visitor Abraham welcomed was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ—He was Jesus Christ before He became a man.  Abraham did not seek to murder Jesus; instead, he welcomed Him and was reverent before Him.  True children of Abraham are those who believe in  God and His Son as Abraham did. See Romans 4:9-17; Galatians 3:6-10

"'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested. 'The only Father we have is God himself.'We hear the resentment toward Jesus in these words.  How can you call us "illegitimate children"?  Our "Father" "is God himself."  They had not been born of some other father, they believed that they were born of God—they had not been born as a nation through some idolatrous worship, but they had come into being through "God." 

The Jews, here, may have also been making a charge against Jesus.  They may have been saying that he was born as an "illegitimate" child—that He was not born of a virgin, but out of wedlock.  For it looked like He was the child of some other man rather than being born of Joseph.  It is true that Jesus had a father other than Joseph.  His father was God the Father.

(6) You are sons of the devil. (8:42-47)
"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.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do you think would happen if a modern-day Christian said what Jesus said here?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you think Jesus was so strong with them?

 

 

"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.Jesus could not have been clearer.  His Father and He were exactly alike.  If people did not love Him, then they also did not love God.

Notice that while Jesus was on earth, He was very aware of His preexistence as God.  "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;" (John 13:3)  "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (John 17:5) See I John 5:1  That God the Father sent Jesus is a theme throughout the Gospel of John. See 1:16, 3:17,34, 5:36-37, 8:18,29, 11:42, 12:49, 17:3

"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."  Recently, a presidential candidate was criticized for mentioning Satan's name in a speech given a number of years ago.  It implied, that he had a screw loose if he considered Satan to be a real person who had goals and who influenced our world.  It got me thinking of how our modern and liberal world would treat Jesus today.  Here, Jesus not only mentions Satan, but He even says that those listening to Him were not willing to receive His words because they "belong to" their "father, the devil."  Wouldn't the modern-day media have a field day with these words of His?  Furthermore, Jesus describes the devil as "a murderer from the beginning" and as "the father of lies."  It is quite clear that Jesus believed that Satan is an individual and that he is completely evil from the heart.  It is also clear that He believed that Satan has a very real and evil influence on the world.  Jesus and the Bible consistently describes him in this way.  "The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." (Revelation 12:9)  It is even true that those who are not ruled by Jesus are ruled by Satan.  "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)

The Bible has much to say about Satan and his evil influence on the world. See Genesis 3; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17; Job 1:6-2:10; Matthew 4:1-11; 13:38-39: II Corinthians 2:11, 4:4, 11:13-15, 12:7; Ephesians 6:12; I Thessalonians 2:18; II Thessalonians 2:9-11; Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10

"a murderer from the beginning"  He filled Cain's heart with murderous hatred and jealousy toward His brother Abel before he killed him.  "Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." (1 John 3:12-15)  The Jews wanted to murder Jesus.  Their hearts were filled with the murderous heart of Satan who 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."  He lied to Adam and Eve.  "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?' . . . 'You will not surely die,' the serpent said to the woman." (Genesis 3:1,4)  And he has been deceiving the world ever since.  In the last days, he will be locked away to prevent him from deceiving the world.  "He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time." (Revelation 20:3)

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire."  Just as there are different degrees to which a person is controlled by God, so there are different degrees to which a person is controlled by Satan.  Satan came into Judas just before he betrayed Jesus. See John 13:30  Certainly, Judas was controlled by Satan to a lesser degree before this moment.

When the Jews heard Jesus, they either moved toward God or toward Satan.  By this time, they were hardened against Jesus just as Satan was.  "'Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.'" (Matthew 23:15)

"Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!"  "The truth" that Jesus speaks of is a "truth" that is unwelcome to them.  It can be a "truth" that is hard for us to receive also.  Isaiah was told by God that he was to give Israel a message that they wouldn't want to hear. See Isaiah 6:9-13  Jeremiah, called the weeping prophet, had a similar message for Israel.  Jesus' message was the "truth," but Israel did not want to hear "the truth."  "Man's proud heart does not welcome this truth, for it reveals his damnable character and lost condition." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

"Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?"  Who in the history of the world right up till today could offer this challenge?  The answer is, no one; and Jesus' enemies were unable to "prove" Him "guilty of sin."  In Jesus' trials before His crucifixion, those who were intent to murder Him struggled to find a charge 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." (Matthew 26:59-60) See Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22 

"'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.'Why does Jesus continue to talk to them, if they do not "belong to God" and are unwilling to listen to "the truth" from God?  Ray Stedman argues that they are not yet a lost cause.  "Are they so completely given over to evil that God cannot help them?  No.  The choice is still theirs and that is why Jesus perseveres with them. . . . Jesus is trying to shake them out of their willfulness and bring them to their God-given senses.  It was meant not to hurt them or humiliate them, but to bring them to reality to save their souls." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  Later, Peter would stand before the leaders who crucified Jesus and once more share the same truth. See Acts 4:1-21, 5:27-33

(7) They lash out against Jesus. (8:48)
"The Jews answered him, 'Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?'"

The Jewish leaders were so angry at Him that they called Him the worst thing they could think of: "a Samaritan" and "demon-possessed."  "Samaritans" were the hated half-breeds that occupied the land between Judea to the south and Galilee to the north.  "Demon-possessed" means that they saw Jesus as possessed by a devil.  It is also saying that they viewed Him as completely insane.  Three options have been given for who Jesus was, based on what He said about Himself: he was either a liar, lunatic, or Lord.  They chose to believe that He was a lunatic.  It was the worst they could do with their tongues at the time.  Later, they would falsely accuse Him and demand that He receive the death penalty.  They, of course, would be successful. See 7:20, 8:52, 10:20; Matthew 9:34, 12:24-29 for other times that Jesus is charged with being "demon-possessed."

"As often happens when people have been debated into a corner and run out of logical arguments, these Jewish leaders resorted to name-calling, personal attack, an bigotry." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  It is called an "ad-hominem" argument.  You are not able to argue logically and win, so your resort to an angry personal attack.  "He must be wrong for He is a "Samaritan" and "demon-possessed."

(8) Jesus' response to their personal attacks (8:49-51)
"'I am not possessed by a demon,' said Jesus, 'but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.'"

Thought Question: What can we learn about how to respond to unfair and hostile attacks on us from the way Jesus here responds to a completely unfair and hostile attack?

 

 

"'I am not possessed by a demon,' said Jesus, 'but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.Jesus quickly and confidently responds to their harsh attack on Him.  In short, what he was saying is, "Out of your mouths comes dishonor toward me, but out of my mouth comes only honor for my Father.  In fact, it is He that honors Me."  Jesus entrusts making the true judgment about who He is to His Father.  Peter states the same truth about Jesus seeking only His Father's judgment of Him.  "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:23)

"I am not seeking glory for myself;"  The fact that they dishonored Him is not His concern; the fact that they dishonor God when they dishonor Him is His concern.  Protecting our egos should not be our concern; our concern should not be ego-directed, but directed toward honoring God.  When people do not honor God, they are in a very dangerous place for them.  This should be our greatest concern, even when their attacks are directed at us personally.

"I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.'" See Psalm 89:48  Not all will need to face the horrible dread of standing as sinners before an absolutely holy Judge.  The greatest fear of man is death and an even greater fear should be the holy judgment that awaits beyond death.  Death is something that no earthly man can conquer—all will face it.  But, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth"amen amen, "verily verily, or truly truly. See 5:24, 6:53, 8:34, 10:7 for other times Jesus says "I tell you the truth"or amen amen.

What does Jesus mean by "he will never see death"?  We know that even Christians die.  I believe that He meant three things:  (1) We are no longer under the curse of Adam and Eve.  God's curse came as a result of them eating the forbidden fruit: "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:17)  Though they ate of that fruit, they did not immediately die physically; but they did immediately die spiritually as they became spiritually separated from God.  Once we choose to believe in Jesus and become a follower of His, God's Spirit will never leave us.  (2) We will not stay in the grave.  When we are "away from the body," we will be present with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8)  For the Christian, on the other side of the grave is not darkness and death, but a much greater life than we have experienced on this side of the grave.  (3) We will not face the ultimate judgment called "the second death"—eternal separation from God in eternal torment. See Revelation 20:6, 21:8; Matthew 25:46  As Paul said, "the sting of death" has been removed. (I Corinthians 15:55-56)

Notice that Jesus' requirement for salvation is "keeps my word."  True faith acts upon what is believed.  If someone has heard a report that a tornado was coming and truly believes that report, he or she will act upon that belief and take action.  Part of that action will be to make sure that he or she leaves the path of the tornado.  He or she that believes that Jesus' words are God's words will act on what is taught in the Bible. See John 14;21, 23-34

(9) They lash out again against Jesus and what He told them. (8:52-53)
"At this the Jews exclaimed, 'Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?'"

Thought Question:  Why do you think that these "Jews" so completely rejected Jesus' offer of eternal life?

 

 

"At this the Jews exclaimed, 'Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death.'Did "the Jews" receive His wonderful offer of eternal life?  No!  Maybe it was because they did not hear Him clearly.  No, they heard him clearly, for they repeat the exact meaning of His words here.  It was not that they did not understand His words, it was that they scornfully and completely rejected His words.  Stephen had this to say about these Jewish religious leaders right before they stoned him to death.  "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him." (Acts 7:51-52)

"Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?They were thinking that He had proven that He was a madman by thinking that He was greater than Abraham and the prophets.  They died, and He thinks He can offer eternal life when these famous men in Israel's history could not even save themselves from dying—for they all had died.

(10) Jesus' response (8:54-56)
"Jesus replied, 'If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.'"

Thought Question:  How did "Abraham" see Jesus' day "and was glad"?

 

 

"Jesus replied, 'If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.'"  Here we have the perfect example of how we who are Christians are to live.  Our goal is not to bring glory to ourselves.  Unholy ambition is to seek that our name will be glorified.  Holy ambition occurs when we seek that God will be glorified.  "This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

"My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me."  "It is not difficult to honour oneself; it is easy enough—in fact, fatally easy—to bask in the sunshine of one's own approval.  It is not overly difficult to win honour from men; the world honours the successful man.  But the real honour is the honour which only eternity can reveal; and the verdicts of eternity are the verdicts of time." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  It is not what we think of ourselves, but it is only what God thinks of us that is important.  If he is pleased with what we do, He will ultimately lift us up.  "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:10)  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:6)

Jesus was ultimately glorified by the Father.  "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)  But Jesus was also glorified during His lifetime and at His death.  "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)  "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." (John 2:11)  "Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.'" (John 12:23)  "After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.'" (John 17:1)

"'Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.'They worshiped "Abraham"; "Abraham" worshiped Jesus.  They did not welcome Jesus; "Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing" Jesus' "day."  "Abraham" saw Jesus' coming and "was glad"; they saw Jesus and were angry!

"If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.Jesus uses the same type of sharp rebuke offered by Stephen.  He is telling the truth, and if He did not tell this truth, He would "be a liar like" them.  When someone publicly makes this charge against a leader in our country, it will be at the top of the news.  It is no small matter.  Jesus calls these Jewish religious leaders liars, which they were.  He does not hesitate to tell the truth, though He obviously knew that He was offending them.  He is a hard model to follow, but those we most admire are those who tell the truth even when it costs them.  One of their lies is that they say that they know God, when they do not know Him at all. See 7:28, 8:19

"'Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.'How did Abraham see Jesus' day?  We are told in Hebrews 11 that "Abraham" saw the future glory of heaven with the eyes of faith.  "For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10)  "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." (Hebrews 11:13)  Also, just as God provided him with a sacrifice so that he did not need to sacrifice his son Isaac, he may have realized that one day God would provide sacrifice to replace us—Someone to pay our penalty in our place. See Genesis 22:8-18  See also 12:41

(11) The religious leaders lash out at Jesus again. (8:57)
"'You are not yet fifty years old,' the Jews said to him, 'and you have seen Abraham!'"

Today, we retire at 65 years old.  In Bible times, the Levite retired from his life of religious service at fifty. See Numbers 4:3  Jesus at this time was about 30 years old.  "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli," (Luke 3:23)  They ask, "How, then, could Jesus say that "Abraham" "saw" His "day and was glad"?

(12) Jesus' response (8:58)
"'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'"

Thought Question:  Was Jesus saying here that He was God?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'"  Jesus is saying that when Abraham was born and became a man, He was there.  In fact, He is the always existing One.  Furthermore, he was clearly declaring that He is God.  When Moses at the burning bush asked God to give him His name, God called Himself, "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)  Jesus was stating that He is "I am."  He was using the word for God that has been translated "Jehovah."  He was saying that He is Jehovah God. See 1:1-2,14  The Septuagint translators of the Old Testament translated the name of God in Exodus 3:14 using the same Greek pronoun and verb that Jesus uses here to describe Himself—ego eimi.

If someone in our country stated, "before George Washington was born, I am," we would have to conclude that he is either a lunatic, a liar, or God.  Jesus left His listeners also with only these three alternatives.  They did not choose to believe that He was Lord. See 10:30, 12:45, 14:9, 17:1,5, 20:28

(13) They pick up stones to stone Him. (8:59)
"At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds."

Stoning someone to death was the appropriate response that Israel was to take when someone blasphemed God.  "Say to the Israelites: 'If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.'" (Leviticus 24:15-16)  But, there needed to be a fair trial first.  A fair trial would have revealed that Jesus was not blaspheming God, for He is God.  They attempted to stone Him not because they had fairly evaluated His claim to be God and concluded He was not God, but because they hated Him. "Violence is the last resort of defeated men, who, when reason fails, try stones." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

"but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds."'Hid himself' is really a passive 'was hidden.'  John is perhaps hinting that God protected His Son.  It is not so much that Jesus by superior cleverness was able to conceal Himself from them.  It was rather that He was concealed by Another, and so passed out of the temple." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co."  The Disciples' Literal New Testament translates it "was hidden."

16. Jesus heals a blind man. (9:1-12)
"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.' Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 'Go,' he told him, 'wash in the Pool of Siloam' (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, 'Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?' Some claimed that he was. Others said, 'No, he only looks like him.' But he himself insisted, 'I am the man.' 'How then were your eyes opened?' they demanded. He replied, 'The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.' 'Where is this man?' they asked him. 'I don’t know,' he said."

Thought Question:  What do you believe is the message for us in this healing of the blind man and Jesus' claim to be "the light of the world"?

 

 

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'"  As a new Christian, my first roommate was blind.  He had been born with sight, but had been blinded by something that was put into his eyes right after his birth.  He could not, though, ever remember being able to see.  Living with him for a school year, helped me to appreciate my sight.  The disciples did not look on this "blind" man with compassion, but he instead provoked from them a theological issue.  "'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'They saw illness coming as a result of a simple formula: someone sins and then they get sick as a result of their sin.  So, "Jesus, was this man's blindness the result of his sin or his parents' sin?"  Since he was born blind, it could not have been his sin, so it must have been his parents' sin.  Though, some commentators mention that there was the belief at Jesus' time that a child could commit a sin previous to his or her birth.

The fact that he was born "blind" created the question in their mind.  So, then, is he suffering blindness because of his parents' sin.  That does not seem to be fair.

There is some warrant for believing that the sins of the parents are passed on to their offspring. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me," (Exodus 20:4-5)  See also Exodus 34:6-7  But, the Bible also says that God does not punish a child for His parents' sin.  "For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die." (Ezekiel 18:4) See also Ezekiel 18:3-32  In Exodus, God describes how the pattern of sinfulness is passed on to other generations.  Then, those in the next generations are punished for their own sins, not for the sins of their parents.  Though their parents' sins make them more susceptible to sinning in the same way as their parents sinned, they do not have to sin in the same way as their parents sinned.

"'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'"  We see here, how God sovereignly uses the tragedies in this life to accomplish His purposes.  There is much that happens in life that does not seem to be consistent with a loving and good God.  But, God is using pain for His good purposes.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)  This man's blindness is a picture of mankind's spiritual blindness.  The healing of his blindness is a picture of God's healing of our spiritual blindness.

"As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.'"  Most everyone has had a time when he or she has been working outside and is trying to get as much done as possible before it gets dark.  Jesus is saying here that these last days of His life were like that.  He could no longer sit and answer His disciples' questions, He had work to do.  His work was to reveal to the world that He was "the light of the world."  He would make this clear through bringing sight to this "blind" man—bringing this man out of the darkness and into the light.

There was an urgency for Jesus during His short time of ministry.  There should also be an urgency for us also.  For here, he says, "we must do the work of him who sent me."  He could be referring to His disciples, but what applied to them certainly applies to us also, now that they are gone.  We also need to be always sensitive to what the Father wants us to do, just as Jesus was always sensitive to what the Father wanted Him to do.  For us also, "night" is also "coming, when no one can work."  We each have an opportunity to do the Father's work.  One day, for many reasons, that time will be over.

It is easy for us to busy ourselves with our curiosity about when Jesus will return or about the finer points of theology.  These types of things have their place, but when that is pretty much all that we do, instead of being busy in the Father's work; then, we need to listen to Jesus' words here.  We need to be sensitive to the Father and to be busy about His "work" while we have the opportunity to do it.

What is the "work" the Father has for  you to do?  Each of us has been gifted by Jesus to do a specific area of ministry.  We have a gifting unique to us and we have opportunities for ministry that are unique to us.  We are to be faithful in our area of ministry.  "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:10-11)  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)  "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)  The "days are evil," because when we are not doing good, evil is what happens.  It is like when we are not pulling weeds or using weed killer, weeds will grow.  When good is not being done, darkness prevails instead of light.

"Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 'Go,' he told him, 'wash in the Pool of Siloam' (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing."  Why did Jesus use "mud" and "spit" to heal this man?  Why, also, did Jesus order him to "wash" it off in "the Pool of Siloam"?  We know that Jesus could have healed him instantly without the "mud" formed by the "spit" and without washing "in the Pool of Siloam."  So, they must have some symbolic teaching in them.  Although Jesus did not explain the symbolism, I offer the following meaning of the symbolism.  (1) "Mud" or "clay" pictures how our flesh blinds us to spiritual reality.  "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”" (Genesis 3:19)  "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." (1 Corinthians 2:14)  See Matthew 8:22-26 See also Matthew 9:27-31, 12:22, 15:30-31, 21:14; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 7:21-23 for other times that Jesus healed the blind. 

(2) "The Pool of Siloam" symbolizes the washing away of our spiritual blindness by God's Spirit. See II Kings 5:10 when Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan River to be cleansed of leprosy.  "The Pool of Siloam" was on the "southeast portion of the city wall.  King Hezekiah had built a tunnel to carry the water of the Gihon Spring (now Virgin's Fount), located outside the wall." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

"The Pool of Siloam was one of the landmarks of Jerusalem; and it was the result of one of the great engineering feats of the ancient world." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  Its purpose was to supply water to the city even when it was attacked.

John tells us the meaning of "Siloam" is "Sent."  The cleansing of our eyes to cure our spiritual blindness comes from Jesus who was "sent" (9:4) by the Father.

 "His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, 'Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?' Some claimed that he was. Others said, 'No, he only looks like him.' But he himself insisted, 'I am the man.' 'How then were your eyes opened?' they demanded."  Would not the same thing happen in our community if someone who had been born blind could suddenly see?  We had seen him walking with a guide dog or a white cane all of our lives.  There was no doubt at all in our minds that he had been blind since birth.  Then, he was able to see just like us!  This once blind man looked different now that he could see.  Yet, he appeared to be the same man.  Would not someone in our time, say what was said in Jesus' time: "No, he only looks like him."  Would not the man born blind then insist: "I am the man."  The next logical question in our time would then be: "How then were your eyes opened?" 

"He replied, 'The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.' 'Where is this man?' they asked him. 'I don’t know,' he said."To this man, Jesus had become the most important person in existence.  He did not know much about him; he only knew that he was 'the man called Jesus.'  He had not ever seen Him; for Jesus had sent him away to the pool of Siloam, where the healing took place." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  To those of us whose spiritually blind eyes have been healed by Jesus, He is also "the most important person in existence."

b. The rejection of the miracle (9:13-34)

(1) The Pharisees interrogate the man that was once blind. (9:13-17)
"They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. 'He put mud on my eyes,' the man replied, 'and I washed, and now I see.' Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.' But others asked, 'How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?' So they were divided. Finally they turned again to the blind man, 'What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.' The man replied, 'He is a prophet.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe these "Pharisees" did not rejoice in this man's healing, but instead were more concerned that Jesus had done the healing on the Sabbath?

 

 

"They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. 'He put mud on my eyes,' the man replied, 'and I washed, and now I see.' Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.'"  Those who truly lead others in God's ways will, most of all, be compassionate.  "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." (Micah 6:8)  But these religious leaders of Israel did not rejoice that this blind man had been healed of his lifelong blindness.  Rather, they wished that he had never been healed, for he was evidence that Jesus was sent by God.  They did not want Jesus to be sent from God.  But they were glad that he healed on the "Sabbath," for that meant that He had broken their laws.  Now, they had Him on a religious technicality.

Instead of being compassionate leaders, they were hard-hearted leaders.  Zechariah describes how they had come to this hard-hearted state.  "And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 'This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.”' 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 7:8-12) See Luke 15:19-32

"'This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.'"  Ray Stedman explains that Jesus had broken the Sabbath in three separate ways:  "First, he spit on the ground and made mud on the Sabbath.  The rabbis held that it was all right to spit on a rock on the Sabbath day because that would not make mud.  But spitting on the dirt violated the Sabbath because that made mud, and making mud is work, and work is forbidden on the Sabbath day! . . . Second, Jesus healed on the Sabbath—and the rabbis said it was forbidden to heal on the Sabbath day.  They specifically said, 'If you find somebody with a broken leg, you can keep it from getting worse, but you cannot make it any better.  That would be work.'  Third, He used spit as medicine on the Sabbath.  There was specific instructions in the rabbinical literature that spit could not be used on the Sabbath because in their culture, spit was considered a medicine.  The use of medicine was forbidden on the Sabbath day because that too was a form of work." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

Jesus certainly knew these rules of the Sabbath.  Why, then, did he choose to defy them?  It actually was the Pharisees who were breaking the spirit of the law given to Israel by Moses.  God's law was given to Israel to reveal that we are all sinners from the heart.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)  "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 Pharisees had altered the law in such a way that it catered to an ugly form of self-righteousness.  Paul, a former Pharisee, describes this self-righteousness in Romans 2:1-3:20  Jesus could not be part of this ugly charade.  Instead, He needed to expose it so that we might see our great need for a Savior.  Much of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7 exposes our sinfulness.  "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)

"Jesus was guilty of breaking the sabbath laws as the rabbis of Israel had constructed them.  But these were manmade regulations; and Jesus who understood God's law perfectly, knew it, and simply disregarded them.  Moreover, they were actually harmful.  For they were the means by which those who were fundamentally incapable of keeping God's true law nevertheless buttressed themselves up in the conviction that they were doing all right as religious people, that they were going to earn heaven." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." See Matthew 6:2,5,16, 23:1-36

"But others asked, 'How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?' So they were divided."  Nicodemus, some time before, had come to the same conclusion.  "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.'" (John 3:2)  Here, when it was clear what direction the political wind was blowing, it took courage to side with Jesus by expressing the possibility that He and His miracles might be from God.  Nicodemus may have been in the group described here.

"Finally they turned again to the blind man, 'What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.' The man replied, 'He is a prophet.'It also took courage for this healed man to say, "He is a prophet."  He certainly also saw what direction the political winds were blowing.  The Samaritan woman came to the same conclusion.  "'Sir,' the woman said, 'I can see that you are a prophet.'" (John 4:19)  Since Jesus had not said anything to this man other than giving him instructions on how to be healed, his claim that he was "a prophet" was a good conclusion as to why this man was able to heal him.

(2) The Pharisees interrogate the parents of the man born blind. (9:18-23)
"The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 'Is this your son?' they asked. 'Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?' 'We know he is our son,' the parents answered, 'and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.' His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, 'He is of age; ask him.'"

Thought Question:  What, do you believe that "the Jews" were trying to accomplish by interrogating the "parents" of the once blind man?

 

 

"The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 'Is this your son?' they asked. 'Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?'"  The tone of the Pharisees communicated these thoughts to the "parents":  "People are saying your son was born blind.  Say that he wasn't born blind and our problem is solved."  It is as if they were blaming the "parents" for creating a dilemma for them.  "Your son is running around seeing.  It is your fault because he is your child."  Finally, "Your son is claiming to be healed of blindness.  Are you the cause of it?" 
 
"'We know he is our son,' the parents answered, 'and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.'"   The "parents" are of no help at all.  They affirm that he is their "son," that he was "born blind," and that he was healed of blindness.  Beyond that, they are afraid to say anything.

"His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, 'He is of age; ask him.'"  What did they not say out of fear "of the Jews"?  When they said, "who opened his eyes," it appears that they heard that someone had healed their son.  They may even have heard that Jesus had healed their son.  It is very likely that the news about the healing had spread to everyone in this area by the time they were questioned.  Also, their son may have told them who healed him and about how he was healed.  It appears that they did not say what they heard about Jesus out of fear "of the Jews."

We can be like these parents.  We can be "afraid" to reveal to everyone what we believe about Jesus.  If we are in an environment where it is not popular to be a Christian, we can be undercover Christians.  Years ago, as a pastor I confronted a biology professor at the local university about a statement I had heard he had made in one of his classes.  He had said that anyone who knows the facts will be an evolutionist.  He invited me to attend one of his classes, which I did.  At times, I challenged what he said in the class.  I was surprised to find that there was at least one (and maybe more, my memory is not really clear on it) who was a Christian in the class.  He or they did not reveal their belief in Jesus until I opened up the issue in class.  It was more intimidating for them than for me, for they were future biologists and my reputation and future did not depend on the professor's opinion of me.

"put out of the synagogue."  To be "put out of the synagogue" was removed from the Jewish faith and its practices.  It was worse than being removed from a church.  It like being removed from all churches.  It was being removed from every "synagogue."  The Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages brought rulers to their knees by threatening this type of ban on them. See also Luke 6:22  And so the parents understandably shied away from telling all that they knew and passed the buck on to their son. 

(3) The Pharisees interrogate the second time the man who was born blind. (9:24-34)
"A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. 'Give glory to God,' they said. 'We know this man is a sinner.' He replied, 'Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!' Then they asked him, 'What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?' He answered, 'I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?' Then they hurled insults at him and said, 'You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.' The man answered, 'Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.' To this they replied, 'You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!' And they threw him out."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe someone can become a religious leader and yet be as hardened as these religious leader were to who Jesus is?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What can you learn from how the once-blind man handled being confronted by people hardened to God on how you can handle a similar situation? (Have you been in a situation like this already?  How did you do?)

 

 

"A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. 'Give glory to God,' they said. 'We know this man is a sinner.' He replied, 'Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!' Then they asked him, 'What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?'"  How would you like to be a witness in court and hear from the judge, "This man is guilty"?  Now, what do you say after hearing those words?  That is what this healed blind man heard.  "Swear by God that what you say is the truth.  This man is a sinner."  Now, what do you say?  The healed former blind man turned out to be a good witness anyway.  "'Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!'"  He simply stated the facts.  This man's words have become well-known.  His words provided a strong witness for Jesus  throughout the centuries.  He stood his ground in a very intimidating atmosphere.  His strong witness was undivided by fear of man; it was concise and it could not have been clearer.  The Jewish leaders wanted him to say that Jesus was a sinner who could not, then, have healed him.  He states simply that Jesus did heal him.  The religious leaders' dilemma remained.

"Then they asked him, 'What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?' He answered, 'I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?'"  The healed man appears to realize that they are not truly interested in his answers to their questions.  They are not seeking the truth, but they are seeking to find some way to spin what has happened to further their desire to prove that Jesus is a "sinner."  The once-blind man must have marveled at their unbelief in the face of the overwhelming evidence.  Why should he continue to be interrogated by them when their minds were closed to what had happened to him?  So, he stops trying to convince them and starts exposing their stubbornness.  He sarcastically asks, "Do you want to become his disciples, too?"  "Are you asking all of these questions over and over again because you want to become followers of His?"  Certainly he knew that they were not interested in following Jesus.  We are amazed at his courage, when his parents were intimidated by these hardened and cold-hearted men.  Instead, he stood up to them and exposed their hardness of heart.  Jesus had chosen the right man to be a witness for Him.

The response he received is not surprising.  "Then they hurled insults at him and said, 'You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.'"  Again, when reasonable arguments do not accomplish men's selfish goals, men resort to personal attacks and anger.  The blind man was defeating them with simple facts.  Those facts truly should have led these supposed men of God to wanting to become Jesus' followers.  After all, they had never healed a man born blind, and He had!  The healed man now clearly saw that Jesus' credentials for being sent from God were greater than theirs.  Their only recourse was to attack him.  "This man was a beggar.  Who was he to speak of who was and who was not from God?"

Their defense is that it is they who represent God, for "Moses" is their leader, not this "sinner."  As often happens today, these leaders resort to the traditions of man.  They did not allow themselves to think of even the possibility that someone greater than Moses was in their midst.  So often the church follows man's traditions and human leaders rather than seeking guidance and insight from the One who is greater than any man.

"The man answered, 'Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.''  The leaders had just said, "we don't even know where he comes from."  They, the great and exalted religious leaders, had admitted to not knowing something.  The healed man knew something about this man who had healed him.  God would not have used Jesus to heal his blindness if He was not a "godly man."  So, "if this man were not from God, he could" not have healed him.

Now, he has them!  "With this simple and logical argument, the man who was healed of blindness has pinned the Pharisees to the wall.  Note the man's powerful and unassailable argument: 'You Pharisees don't know where this man came from, you admit your ignorance—yet he opened my eyes!  Obviously, I can now see more clearly than you'!" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  Being on the side of truth always puts us in a stronger position than the one who purposely chooses not to believe the truth.

"To this they replied, 'You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!' And they threw him out.Although the healed man was on the side of truth and the Pharisees were horribly and obviously in the wrong, they won!  At least, they won for the moment.

First of all, they charged him with being "steeped in sin at birth."  They were saying that his blindness was his fault.  In their minds, he had been blind from birth as a punishment for his sin of even being born.  They challenged him by saying, "How could someone so sinful lecture such eminent religious authorities as us?  Who does he think that he is, anyway?"  Then, they did exactly what his parents feared would happen to them, they "threw him out" of the synagogue.  They excommunicated him!  "The religious leaders officially excommunicated this man from the local synagogue.  This meant that the man was cut off from friends and family and looked upon by the Jews as a 'publican and sinner.'  But Jesus came for the 'outcasts' and never let them down." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books." See 9:22  This healed man was on the side of  God, yet he was expelled from the supposed people of faith.

c. The blind man is healed of spiritual blindness (9:35-38)
"Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' 'Who is he, sir?' the man asked. 'Tell me so that I may believe in him.' Jesus said, 'You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.' Then the man said, 'Lord, I believe,' and he worshiped him." The older manuscripts say "Son of Man" rather than "Son of God" like it is in the KJV.

Thought Question #1:  What do we learn from Jesus' words to the once-blind man about Jesus? (How does He respond to us when we are unjustly and harshly treated?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Does the fact that Jesus allowed this man to worship Him mean that Jesus is God?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' 'Who is he, sir?' the man asked. 'Tell me so that I may believe in him.'"  The religious leaders threw this healed man out their religious system and right into the arms of Jesus.  Jesus did not forget him.  Jesus asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"  What did Jesus mean by "the Son of Man"?  It is another name for the Messiah.  "As to statistics, the term occurs eighty times in the Gospels.  In the fourth Gospel, it is found thirteen times (or even eleven times if its controversial occurrence in 5:27 and 9:35 is excluded)." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen on 12:34.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." See 1:51, 3:13,14, 5:27, 6:27,53,62, 8:28, 9:35, 12:23,34, 13:31  The term "Son of Man" describes the Messiah clearly 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." (Daniel 7:13-14)  "'Yes, it is as you say' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" (Matthew 26:64)

The healed man shows his eagerness to believe and his humility by his question:   "'Who is he, sir? . . . Tell me so that I may believe in him.'"  We see his respect for Jesus as he refers to Him as "sir."  And we see his trust in Jesus by his immediate willingness to believe in the One Jesus calls "the Son of Man."

"Jesus said, 'You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.' Then the man said, 'Lord, I believe,' and he worshiped him.This man immediately knew that God was standing in front of Him and he believed in Him and "worshiped him."  It was appropriate for Jesus to receive this worship, for this man recognized the truth—that He is God.  Jesus did not reject the worship as the angel did in the book of Revelation.  "I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!'" (Revelation 22:8-9)  God alone is to be worshiped.  "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:4-6)  Yet, Jesus received this healed man's worship of Him.  He will also receive our worship of Him as well.  "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11) See Acts 10:25-26, 14:11-16

What happened to this blind man after this?  We do not know.  But we do know two things.  (1) He is now with "the Son of Man" who healed his physical and spiritual blindness.  (2) His courageous witness of Jesus continues to speak to us today.  May we also be, like him, a courageous witness of Jesus Christ.

d. The Pharisees continue in their spiritual blindness. (Acts 9:39-41)
"Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.' Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, 'What? Are we blind too?' Jesus said, 'If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.'"

Thought Question:  What makes the guilt of these "Pharisees" greater than the guilt of those of other men?

 

 

"Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.' Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, 'What? Are we blind too?'Jesus divides the world into two great classes: those who think they see but are "blind" and those who can see the truth.  Those who think they can see but are blind, hate Jesus and hate His followers.  What is the difference between these two groups of people?  One group is full of pride and is resentful toward anyone who says they need a Savior.  And the other group humbly recognizes their need for a Savior.  The Pharisees were in the first group; the blind man was in the second group.  The Pharisees were high in society; the once-blind beggar was at the very bottom of society.  Jesus cured the blind man; the Pharisees became even blinder.  They thought they were guides to the blind, but they were the blindest of the blind. see Romans 2:17-24, 3:19-21; Matthew 11:25-26, 23:16

"Jesus said, 'If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.'If they had no light, they would be guilty.  But, we all have light.  "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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 1:18-20)  Plus, these Pharisees had the light from the Old Testament Scriptures.  They, of all people on the earth at that time, should have known that the Person standing in front of them was "the Son of Man" and the Messiah predicted in the Bible.  Because they, who had the Scriptures, could not see that He was the Messiah, they were the blindest of the blind.  "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23)

17. Jesus the good shepherd (10)

a. True and false shepherds (10:1-6)
"'I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.' Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them."

Thought Question:  According to Jesus' words here, how do you know whether or not you are one of Jesus' "sheep"?

 

 

"'I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice."  One of the most beloved pictures of Jesus is Jesus as the "good shepherd." (10:11)  This is the theme of John 10.  Jesus, here, contrasts the "good shepherd" with the false shepherds of Israel who were intent on killing Him.

Jesus uses the theme of a "shepherd" and his "sheep" as an allegorical teaching of His relationship with his "sheep," contrasting this good "shepherd" with the false shepherd's relationship with the "sheep."  An allegory is a figure of speech that is different than a parable—a parable's purpose is to communicate one main teaching.  A parable is a metaphor in story form.  In an allegory, many parts of the story have meaning that applies to what is being taught.  Jesus as the "true vine" is also an allegory.  I once heard a Christian speaker give spiritual meaning to just about every part of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Actually, this parable has only one primary meaning—our neighbor is one the who is in need, and we should be available to help anyone who is in need.  Pouring oil on his head did not symbolize giving someone the Holy Spirit.  That is going beyond the intent of the parable.  But in an allegory, there can be symbolic meanings to many parts of the picture that is given.

Jesus interprets here the way that a "shepherd" and his flock symbolize Jesus' relationship between Him and His flock.  In a village there was a walled-in enclosure where the sheep of different shepherds were kept when the shepherds were at home in the village.  There was one "gate" on the enclosure and there was a gate-keeper who only allowed those who were the shepherds of the "sheep" to come through.  The "sheep" knew their "shepherd" and would follow him out of the enclosure through the "gate" so they could go out into the fields to graze.

If someone tried to steal the "sheep," he would not go in by the way of the "gate," for the gate-keeper would not let him in.  The "sheep" would also not follow this false shepherd voluntarily; whereas, they would follow the true "shepherd" voluntarily.

What is the meaning of Jesus' allegory today?  Psalm 23 describes God as our Shepherd.  Those who are God's "sheep"  will recognize Jesus as the Messiah predicted by God.  He was born in Bethlehem, as predicted in Micah 5:2.  He was born of the family of Jesse and David as predicted in Isaiah 11:2; II Samuel 7:16; and Psalm 89:35-37.  He was born of a virgin as predicted in Isaiah 7:14.  He died for our sin as predicted in Isaiah 53.  We His "sheep" will come to Him as our "Shepherd" and follow Him.  False shepherds try to sneak in and take Jesus' "sheep" away, but we recognize that they are not the true "Shepherd" and we do not follow them.  The religious leaders of Israel were false shepherds.  There are also false shepherds today, both outside of and inside of the church. Other sections of the Bible referring to God as are Shepherd are found in Psalm 95, 100:3; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 23:1-4, 34-38; Ezekiel 34; Zechariah 11:4-17; Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:3-7; Hebrew 13:20

"his sheep follow him because they know his voice."  "What a lesson for pastors who seek to drive the church like cattle and fail.  The true pastor leads in love, in words, in deed." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press." 

b. Jesus is the gate (10:7-10)
"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. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Thought Question:  How does Jesus give us "life to the full" or abundant life?

 

 

"Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.There two sheepfolds where "sheep" were kept: (1) The sheepfold in the village; and (2) the sheepfold in the hills and fields that was an enclosure surrounded by a rock wall where normally only one shepherd kept his flock.  When the "sheep" were in the enclosure away from the village, the "shepherd" would sleep across the "gate" to protect the "sheep" from intruders.

Jesus was the only "gate" through which the people of Israel entered into an eternal relationship with God.  And He is the only way that we today can enter into an eternal relationship with God.  "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)  "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6) See Ephesians 2:14-18; I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:19-20

"All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them."  Who are these "thieves and robbers" that Jesus is referring to?  "He must have in view the whole Jewish religious hierarchy of His day." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  They used religion as a stepping stone to personal prominence.  They were not interested in God and the people.  They were not shepherds at all.  "The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus." (Luke 16:14)  "They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." (Mark 12:40)

"thieves"  "The first word is kleptes from which we get our word kleptomaniac." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture."  In the example of the sheepfold, those "sheep" that enter into the protective enclosure with the "shepherd" at the "gate" "will be saved" from any predator that would like to devour them.  The figurative language points to Jesus' "sheep" being "saved" from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, from Satan and his cohorts, and ultimately from the presence of sin.  And this salvation can only come through Jesus. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

"He will come in and go out, and find pasture."  For the "sheep," this is finding what is ideal.  For us, it is finding abundant life.  Freedom to safely go in and out of a village and in and out of fields meant living in safety and security.  "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. . . . You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:1-3, 5-6)  "Find pasture" describes a life of fulfillment and satisfaction.  Jesus promises to give us this abundant life in the next verse.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.Certainly, the one who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" is ultimately pointing to Satan.  Satan and his followers are not interested in God's "sheep," but they are only interested in what they can get from us, or are interested in destroying us.  Jesus, the "good shepherd" desires the very best for us—He wants us to experience a fulfilled life.  Paul contrasts the full life with a life of drunkenness.  "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:18-20)  Drunkenness produces the opposite of being saved.   "Debauchery" translates the Greek word asotiaAsotia  is the Greek word for saved with an alpha in front of it.  In other words, drunkenness leads to one being unsaved.  Whereas being filled by the Holy Spirit is an overflowing life that overflows into gratitude toward God and worship of God.

"Have life" is a present tense verb—"that they (people) may keep on having life." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

"and have it to the full."  "The Greek word for abundance has a mathematical meaning and generally denotes a surplus." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Ultimately, this abundant life is eternal life—a full and pure quality of life that we begin to experience now and will fully experience in heaven.  "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:6)  "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have [have now] eternal life." (1 John 5:11-13)

c. Jesus the good shepherd (10:11-18)
"'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— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.'"

Thought Question #1:  How would you define the meaning of "good"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do you learn from these verses about how much Jesus cares for you?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Who do you believe are the "other sheep" that Jesus speaks of here?

 

 

"'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.'"  Many have seen the painting of Jesus as "the good shepherd."  I saw it as a child.  It made me feel good.  But I also, like many, did not think deeply about what it means.  How important is it for us to believe that Jesus is our "good shepherd"?  Is it important that we have good parents, good teachers, good bosses, and good leaders in our churches.  Here, Jesus contrasts Himself as the "good shepherd" with a bad shepherd. 

What is a definition of someone who is "good"?  The following are ways to describe someone who is "good": he or she is kind, compassionate, caring, patient, forgiving, sacrificial, selfless, pure-hearted, gentle, humble, self-giving, and more.  These are all "good" qualities for a leader to have.  Is it important to you that God is "good" and that He has all of these "good" qualities? 

We need to recover in our country what is meant by "good."  Today, we say that someone is a "good" business man because he is a successful business man.  Successful and "good" can be complete opposites.  People can say that a movie is "good," when it is full of immorality.  We can say that someone is a "good" comedian when his or her humor is directed toward demeaning someone.

Jesus is the "good shepherd" because He cares so much for us who are His "sheep" that he even laid "down His life" for us. See 10:15, 17-18  "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8) See I Samuel 17:35-37

Notice also that Jesus is not only a "good shepherd," He is "the good shepherd."  The actual Greek word order is as follows: "the shepherd the good one."  Jesus is unique in that no one has been "the good shepherd" in the way that He is our "good shepherd."  No one laid "down his life for" us like Jesus did.  A "shepherd" may risk his life for his "sheep," but what "shepherd" voluntarily lays "down his life for" his "sheep" like Jesus did?  "The adjective [translated "good"], however, is not agathos but kalos.   The basic meaning of this word is beautiful.  Here it indicates excellent." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

The Greek word translated "life" is the Greek word from which we get our word "psychology."  It literally means that Jesus laid "down his" whole personality—His everything for us.  His love for us is completely sacrificial.  The greatest love is to seek another's best no matter how much it costs us.  The greatest selfishness is to seek our best no matter what it costs others.
"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."  There are many reasons to be a pastor or a leader in the church.  One reason is for the money.  Many have gotten very rich through their leadership in churches or Christian organizations.  Peter teaches against this motivation for ministry in I Peter 5:2-4: "Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." (1 Peter 5:2-4)  Those who are pastoring for the money do not care for the sheep.  When, for example, the money dries up, they are gone.  Many a good pastor will work outside of  the church so he can make a living and still pastor his flock.  The Pharisees were like this "hired hand."  When the blind man was healed and others were healed, they did not rejoice with hearts full of compassion; instead, they resented the attention that Jesus was getting.
An owner always appreciates an employee who loves the work and desires that the business be successful and well thought of, rather than having an employee who is only concerned about how much money he is making.  Pastors, above all people, need to be like the former employee.  Most pastors, I believe, are like this.  Especially, those serving without much acclaim, who are serving primarily out of love for people and love for God.  For example, a youth pastor I know took a group of young people to Jamaica to serve orphans there.  A man broke into the enclosure with a gun to steal from these affluent Americans.  This young youth pastor put his own life at risk to protect those in his small flock.  He obviously did not see himself as only a hired hand who was only in it for the money.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep."  Here, we see the difference between "the good shepherd" and the "hired hand."  It is like the difference between the farmer and his children and the farmer and his hired help.  The difference is the intimacy between a father and his son compared to the farmer's relationship with a bunch of hired workers who have only been hired for a season.  Jesus and His Father have a bond of intimacy and closeness beyond any closeness we have seen or experienced.  Jesus states here that He has this type of intimacy now with us who are his "sheep"!  It is because of this type of closeness with all of us who are His "sheep" and because we are so dear to Him, that He laid "down" his life for us.  It is not hard to imagine a parent laying down his or her life to attempt to save a child who is drowning or for a parent to pull a child from a burning building at the risk of dying in the flames.  So Jesus, in great compassion, gave his life for us.

"I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."  Who are these "other sheep"?  The "sheep" that Jesus has been talking about up to this point are those who had believed in Him from Israel—the believing remnant.  The "other sheep" are those who would believe in Him from the non-Jewish world—the Gentile world.  In other words, the "other sheep" are we who have believed in Him who are not Jewish.  The "other sheep" are those who have listened to His "voice" down through the centuries from the Gentile world.  The "one flock" is what we now call the worldwide church of God—a church that includes Jesus' "sheep" from Israel and from all the rest of the peoples of the world.  Paul describes this church in Ephesians 2: "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, . . ." (Ephesians 2:11-19)

"I must bring them also."  "Must" "expressing the moral urgency of Christ's passion for God's people in all lands and ages." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  Jesus was compelled to reach out to His "sheep" all over the world.  It is the passion of the missionary and should be the passion of all of us.  We see this passion of Jesus in Paul's words in Romans 1:14-15: "I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome."

Today, we are those who "must" reach out to our world with the gospel message to bring into Jesus' sheepfold those who are His "sheep." See Matthew 28;18-20; Mark 16:15

"'The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.'Here, Jesus teaches us His complete uniqueness.  He was not about to be murdered, but, instead, He was about to voluntarily give his life for us.  He could have at any time stopped them from murdering Him.  But he continued getting beaten, continued absorbing the mocking, and continued hanging on the cross out of obedience to the Father and out of love for us.  Then, when he had died and was buried, He also chose to raise Himself from the dead. See Acts 2:22-24; Romans 1:4; Philippians 2:5-11

Who exactly enabled Jesus to rise from the dead?  Was it the Father, the Spirit, or Jesus Christ?  The answer reveals to us the Oneness of God.  The answer is that all the members of the Trinity raised Jesus from the dead—God's power raised Jesus from the dead.  Here, we are told that Jesus took His life back "again."  Romans 6:4 says it was the Father who raised Jesus from the dead.  "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."  Romans 8:11 says it was the Holy Spirit who raised Him from the dead.  "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."  Acts 2:32 simply says it was God:  "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact."

Jesus simply states that both His choosing to die and His choosing to resurrect from the dead were all done in complete obedience to the Father.  "This command I received from my Father.

d. Men divide over Him—some believe in Him and some reject Him (10:19-42)

(1) The division over Jesus (10:19-20)
"At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, 'He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?' But others said, 'These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'"

Jesus gave a message of love and a message from God that He was going to rise from the dead.  He also backed up His words by healing a man who had been "blind" from birth.  How did they respond to Him?  Some saw Him as a man who said He was going to commit suicide and then come back to life—they concluded that He was either "demon-possessed or raving mad."  Others focused on the miracle He had done in healing a blind man and were willing to consider that He might be a man from God. See 7:43 and 9:16 for other times that people were divided over Him.  See also 7:20, 8:48; Matthew 12:24  for other times when He was accused of being demon-possessed.

"again divided."  He divided people then, and He divides people today.  We must choose which side we are on.  Again, the majority does not believe that He was and is "the good shepherd" of God's flock who opened the eyes of the "blind."  We stand in the minority and believe because He opened our spiritually blind eyes.

(2) The reason for the unbelief (10:22-26)
"Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, 'How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.' Jesus answered, 'I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.'"

Thought Question:  When did Jesus tell them that He was the Messiah?

 

 

"Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, 'How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.'This event took place near our Christmas time and at the Jewish Hanukkah.  This Jewish festival celebrated Israel's victory over Antioches Epiphanes' attempt to turn Israel into a Greek country with a Greek culture and Greek religion.  "The origin of the Feast of Dedication lies in one of the greatest times of ordeal and heroism in Jewish history.  There was a king of Syria called Antioches Epiphanes who reigned from 175 to 164 B.C.  He was a lover of all things Greek.  He decided that he would eliminate the Jewish religion once and for all, and introduce Greek ways and thoughts, Greek religion and gods into Palestine.  At first he tried to do so by peaceful penetration of ideas.  Some of the Jews welcomed the new ways, but most were stubbornly loyal to their ancestral faith.  It was in 170 B.C. that the deluge really came.  In that year Antioches attacked Jerusalem.  It was said that 80,000 Jews perished, and as many were sold into slavery. . . and finally Antioches took the dreadful step of turning the great altar of the burnt-offering into an altar to Olympian Zeus, and on it proceeded to offer swine's flesh to the pagan gods.  It was then that Judas Maccabaeus and his brother arose to fight their epic fight for freedom.  In 164 B.C. the struggle was finally won; and in that year the Temple was cleansed and purified." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  The "Feast of Dedication" or Hanukkah  is celebrated each year, remembering the victory and the cleansing of the temple.  Antioches is a prediction of the future antichrist. See Daniel 11:21-45

This event took place in December.  The last event John described for us was during the Feast of Tabernacles in October.  So, this event took place about three months later.

The time of the event described here was at the time of the "Feast of Dedication."  The location "was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade."  "They were rows of magnificent pillars, almost forty feet high and roofed over.  People walked there to pray and meditate; and Rabbis strolled there as they talked to their students." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

"'How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.'Jesus is being put on the spot in the same way as celebrities are put on the spot today.  As is the case today, He was being asked a question that, if answered, would make immediate news.  "Say it clearly, are you or are you not the Messiah?"

They were blaming Him for their unbelief.  They were saying that they did not believe in Him because He had not been plain enough in telling them who He was.  But, they really wanted Him to be plain so that He would incriminate Himself plainly.

"Jesus answered, 'I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.'People today say that they do not believe because there is not enough evidence.  They often call themselves "agnostics"—those who do not know enough to know if there is a God.  Jesus said the following: "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)  The real problem is not that there is not enough evidence, but that they are not really interested in finding out whether or not Jesus is God.  For, then, they would need to submit to Him as their Lord.

"The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.'When John the Baptist had doubts that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus gave this answer: "Jesus replied, 'Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.'" (Matthew 11:4-5) See Hebrews 2:3-4

"'I did tell you, but you do not believe."  When did He tell them?  He made it clear enough to them that He was the Messiah when they were ready to stone Him for blasphemy.  "'Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.' 'You are not yet fifty years old,' the Jews said to him, 'and you have seen Abraham!' 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!' At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds." (John 8:56-59) See also 5:17-30  He also referred to Himself as "the Son of Man" which is another name for the Messiah. See 3:13-15, 5:27, 6:27,53,62, 8:28

Jesus says that they do not believe in Him because they "are not" His "sheep."  He goes on to describe His "sheep" in the following verses.  Are we His "sheep"?  We are His "sheep" if His description of His "sheep" in the following verses describes us.

(3) A description of those who are Jesus' sheep (10:27-29)
"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. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand."

Thought Question: Do these verses teach that once we have been born again through belief In Jesus' death for us, we can never lose our salvation?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.How can we tell if we are Jesus' "sheep"?  First of all, we are His "sheep" if we are eager to hear and understand what He says.  We recognize that His words come from God and we want to receive God's wisdom for our lives from Him. 

Ray Stedman had the following to say about Jesus' "sheep" listening to His "voice":  "One of the most encouraging aspects of my forty-plus years of ministry has been seeing the hunger of God's people for His word.  What brings hundreds of people to church every Sunday morning when they could be at the mountains, at the beach, or sleeping in late?  They are attracted by the voice of Jesus, not the preacher's voice or the voice of the choir, but the voice of the Shepherd Himself.   They seek His insight, His understanding of the secrets of life, His solutions to the problems of life.  That is a prime characteristic of a true sheep of the Shepherd.  They long to hear the word of God." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

Next, when we are Jesus' "sheep," Jesus knows us.  We feel accepted and loved by Him.  "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)  He or she who truly hears Jesus' "voice" and "opens the door" will experience wonderful fellowship with this One who knows us and loves us.

Finally, if we are Jesus' "sheep," we will "follow" Him.  "Follow" is in the present tense meaning that if we are His "sheep," we will continually "follow" Him.  "Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'" (John 14:23)  We are His followers and His "sheep" when we, out of love, choose to obey Him.  It is not what we have to do, but what we get to do. See 10:4 

Now, does verse 27 teach that man chooses God or that God chooses man?  The main emphasis is on what we do—His "sheep" are those who choose to listen to Jesus and choose to "follow" Him.  We do this, though, both because He knows us and because we are His "sheep."  The question that Calvinists will argue is that He first makes us His born-again "sheep," and then we listen to Him and "follow" Him.  But listening to Him and following Him are choices that we must make.  Another possibility is that we are His "sheep" because He so works in our lives that we come to a place where we want to listen to Him and to follow Him.  Then, we are born-again as we choose to believe in Him and to become His follower.  Jesus gave many invitations welcoming people to come to Him and to believe in Him so that He could give them this new life. See John 6:35, 8:12, Matthew 11:28-30  See also Acts 2:36-39

The main problem with the Calvinistic position is that those who are not Jesus' "sheep" are not Jesus' "sheep" because Jesus did not choose them.  But, in the Gospels, the emphasis is that they are not His "sheep" because they choose not to be His "sheep."  "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)  "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) See John 9:41

The resolution of the problem is that we really choose to be God's "sheep" and He really chooses us.  We are not required to unravel how both can be true—they just both are true.  Nor are we to emphasize only one side and deemphasize the other.  So many dividing issues in the church are relegated to either-or, when the solutions are both-and.

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."  Notice, Jesus did not say that we earn "eternal life," He said that He gives it to us.  And He says, we will "never perish."  What does "eternal" mean?  It means, within this context, that we will "never perish."  His "eternal" type of life will "never" come to an end.  That is a nice gift!  I remember still my first days as a new Christian some forty plus years ago.  The gift of "eternal life" was so real and fresh to me that I had one goal clearly in mind: tell others about it.  The grass was truly greener and the sky was bluer because God had given me the gift of "eternal life." See 3:16, 6:27,40

"My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.If the One who is holding onto us "is greater than all," who is strong enough to take us out of the "Father's hand"?  Jesus also said in 10:28: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."  We, then, are in His iHvery good and strong hands.  We do not need to hold on to God and our relationship with Him, but we can believe that we are being strongly held on to by the Father and the Son.

Some say, we can jump out of God's "hand" ourselves.  But, if we are truly Jesus' "sheep," do we want to jump out?  One of the problems that we Christians have are those who profess to be Christians but are not living like Christians should.  I believe the answer to our problem is found in the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.  There Jesus explains that there will be those in the church who look like they are Christians, but they are not.  It, though, is not our place to try to figure out who are Christians and who are not.  The angels at the end of time will divide between those who are in Jesus' kingdom and those who are not.  But those who are truly Jesus' "sheep" will "never perish." 

The NIV translation, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all" is very similar to the translation in the ESV and the NASB.  But a possible translation is "What my Father has given to me is greater than all," as it is found in the Disciples Literal New Testament.  Leon Morris and A. T. Robertson support a similar translation as being more accurate.  Morris thinks that translators chose the former translation because it is easier to understand.  If Morris is correct, then, "What My Father has given to me is greater than all" refers to the authority given to Him by the Father.  In the following verses, Jesus claims to have an authority that is the greatest authority.  "For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him." (John 17:2)  "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18)  In either case, whether God is "greater than all" or Jesus' authority is "greater than all," there is no one strong enough or has enough authority to take us out of God's hand.

Ray Stedman tells a story H. A. Ironside once told him of a woman who did not believe these verses taught that true believers in Christ can never lose their salvation.  "He said, 'supposing Jesus said, “I give them life for twenty years, and they shall never perish for twenty years and no one can snatch them out of my hand for twenty years.”  What would you think that means?'  'I think that means they would be safe for twenty years.'  'Let us say we changed twenty years to forty years.  Would they be safe for forty years?'  'Yes,' she said, 'I think they would be safe for forty years.'  'But it doesn't say twenty or forty years, it says forever: “and they shall never perish.”  The Greek text is very strong at that point.  What it literally says is, They shall never perish forever.”  Let's read it that way: “I give life forever and they shall never perish forever.”  Do you believe that?'  'Not the way you interpret it,' She replied.  At this point Dr. Ironside could only throw up his hands." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

Some feel that this teaching that we cannot lose our salvation encourages us to feel free to sin.  After all, no matter what we do, we cannot lose our salvation.  Paul answers that question in Romans 6:1-4:  "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:1-4)  When we have truly come to Christ, we have chosen from the heart to leave a life of sin to follow Christ and experience the new resurrection life He makes available to us.  Paul asks, then, "Why would we ever want to return to a life of sin?"  As Paul says, "By no means!"  It is not at all consistent for a true Christian to do this.  See also Romans 6:11-23

(4) Jesus claims to be equal with God and the Jews pick up stones to stone Jesus. (10:30-33)
"'I and the Father are one.' Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?' 'We are not stoning you for any of these,' replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'"

Thought Question:  Do you believe that Jesus is declaring that He is God in these verses?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'I and the Father are one.'"  Jesus said that "no one can snatch them out of" His "hand."   Then, He says that "no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand."  Now, He says that the "Father" and He "are one."  Here, we have the mystery of the Trinity.  The Father and Jesus are not two parts of God, they both are fully God.

Some say that when Jesus said, "I and the Father are one," that He was not claiming to be God.  The Jews, though, knew exactly what he was claiming, for they picked up stones to stone him" to death for blaspheming by claiming to be God.   "'We are not stoning you for any of these,' replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'" (John 10:33)

What did Jesus mean when He said, "I and the Father are one"?  At the very least, He was claiming to be in unity with the Father in purpose and will. See John 4:34, 5:17-23,30  But, He had just stated that "no one" could "snatch" His sheep from both His "hand" and His "Father's hand."  He also said His sheep will "never perish" because they will forever be safe in His "hand" and the "Father's hand."  So, now when He says that "I and the Father are one," He is stating that he is at "one" with the "Father" in strength and eternal existence, as well as being at "one" with Him in purpose and will.  He was claiming to share Divinity with the "Father." See 1:1-3, 8:58  He was saying that the "Father" and He were "one" Being.  They were two distinct persons, yet "one" in substance; what we now call the Trinity—three Persons and "one" God.

"Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?' 'We are not stoning you for any of these,' replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'These "Jews" did not answer Jesus' question—they skipped the issue of His "miracles."  They were not interested in being convinced that He was indeed God and not "a mere man."  Their minds were made up, they were not interested in any evidence that would support His claim to be God.  The problem was not that they could not believe but that they did not want at all to believe in Him.  And, so, they went looking for "stones." 

Satan filled the hearts of these men.  Satan would like to eliminate God so that He can be the sole ruler of the universe.  "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." (John 8:44)

"Blasphemy" was a sin punishable by stoning.  "Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death." (Leviticus 24:16)  The problem, though, is that the absence of sin in His life, His miracles, and the fact that He fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah proved He was the coming One who was and is God.  "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)  They were trying to stone their promised King!

(5) Jesus' response to their charge of blasphemy (10:34-39)
"Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are gods”? If he called them “gods,” to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.' Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp."

Thought Question:  Is Jesus saying here that it is okay for men to say that they are a god?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are gods”? If he called them “gods,” to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”?These verses have bothered me in the past.  It can appear that Jesus found some verses in the Bible that say that men can be "gods," so it was okay for Him to call Himself God.  "He was claiming to be God in a unique and absolute sense; but in these verses He seems to be watering down the claim by saying that He meant no more by it than what the Old Testament means when it applied the word 'gods' to men." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Let us, though, look more thoroughly at what He was saying.  He was quoting from Psalm 82:6.  Those who are called "gods" in this verse are divinely appointed judges and rulers. "God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the 'gods'." (Psalm 82:1)  "I said, You are 'gods'; you are all sons of the Most High." (Psalm 82:6)  "In the language of the OT—and in accordance with the conceptional world of the ancient Near East—rulers and judges, as deputies of the heavenly king could be given the honorific title, 'god.'" "NIV Study Bible note on Psalm 82:1."  They were called "gods" because they represented God.  ". . . then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life." (Exodus 21:6)  "In the Hebrew, the word which is translated judges is actually elohim, which means gods." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

Then, Jesus said that if the Bible which cannot make a mistake says that these men who were born on earth are "gods," why are you so upset about me, when I "whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world" call myself "God’s Son"?  If people who are set apart as God's rulers are called "gods," why is it, then, inappropriate for me who has been "set apart" by God as God's "very own" Son to call myself God's Son? 

"In other words, Jesus was not denying that He is God in a unique way—far from it." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Jesus was saying, if mere men can be called "gods," then why cannot the Son of God call Himself God?

"Set apart" is a translation of the Greek word "hagiazein, the verb from which comes the adjective, hagios¸ holy." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

"and the Scripture cannot be broken"  "Not be broken" is also used in 7:23.  "Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?"  The "Scripture" is unbreakable—it cannot be torn down or done away with.  Although men have made every attempt to disprove the Bible and relegate it away as just the fallible writings of men, the "Scripture" claims to be the infallible and inerrant word of truth from God.  "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."               (2 Timothy 3:16-17)  "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21)  "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17-18)  "If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command." (1 Corinthians 14:37)  "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." (1 Thessalonians 2:13)  As someone has said, the Bible is the anvil that has not been broken by the hammers that have pounded on it, but it has worn down the hammers.

"'Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.' Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.Jesus appeals to them on the basis of "the miracles" that He performed.  If they do not believe His words, at least they should consider His miraculous works.  "A word is something which a man can argue; but a deed is something beyond argument." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  If these "miracles" were from "the Father"; then, they should realize that "the Father is in" Him and He is "in the Father." 

Jesus does not back off when they tried to stone Him.  He presses on to them that which they cannot deny—the "miracles" that He worked.  They continue to resist Him and the overwhelming evidence that He was God's Son.  J. C. Ryle describes their condition as follows: "Nothing hardens more and takes away reason so completely as obstinate resistance to plain evidence."

"Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.They now gave up trying to stone Him to death and try to arrest Him.  He, somehow, is able to avoid "their grasp."  He leaves Jerusalem until He returns months later to be arrested and crucified. See also 7:44, 8:59

(6) Jesus' popularity among the multitudes (10:40-42)
"Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, 'Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.' And in that place many believed in Jesus."

Thought Question:  Jesus' ministry was helped by the previous ministry of John the Baptist.  List some of those who were part of you becoming a Christian.

 

 

"Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, 'Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.' And in that place many believed in Jesus.In Jerusalem, the Jewish powerful elite wanted to stone and arrest Him.  In this remote place where John the Baptist had baptized people, Jesus was welcomed by the multitudes.  They saw that He was who John the Baptist had said He was.  "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.”'" (John 1:15)  "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 1:23)  "'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! 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.'" (John 1:29-34)

"Though John never performed a miraculous sign"  Jesus, on the other hand, performed many miracles.  "Jesus did many other things as well [beyond the miracles recorded in the Gospel of John]. 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)  John the Baptist was a man; Jesus is God!

"all that John said about this man was true."  When we teach and share the gospel message, we almost always are adding our testimony to the testimonies of many others who have already shared with them.  John the Baptist had taught about Jesus before they met Jesus.  Jesus was reaping from the sowing of seed by John the Baptist.  Any reaping that we do is almost always reaping where others have sown.  At the time I am writing these words, I am leading a Bible Study.  In that Bible study is a man who worked for a wonderful Christian lady.  Her ministry to him was used by God in drawing this man to Himself.  She is with the Lord, but her ministry to him lives on.  John the Baptist had already died at the time recorded in John 10, but his ministry to these people lived on.  May we be those who fruitfully teach men about Jesus Christ, and may our ministry to others live on beyond our lives also.

18. Jesus the resurrection and the life (11)

a. The death of Lazarus (11:1-16)
"Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick.' When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.' Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. Then he said to his disciples, 'Let us go back to Judea.' 'But Rabbi,' they said, 'a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?' Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.' After he had said this, he went on to tell them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.' His disciples replied, 'Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.' Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.' Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'"

Thought Question:  How can these verses be helpful to you when God does not respond immediately when you ask Him to help you during a painful and difficult time?

 

 

"Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair."  "Mary," "Martha," and "Lazarus" were some of Jesus' closest friends on earth.  Jesus did not have a "place to lay his head" (Mark 9:58), but their home was always opened to Him.  "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said." (Luke 10:38-39)  We see Mary's devotion to Jesus in the next chapter in John.  "Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." (John 12:1-3)

"Lazarus" was "sick" and dying.  How did his sisters approach Jesus?  How they approached Him will give us insight on how we can approach Him in prayer today when we are in need.

"So the sisters sent word to Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick.'"  They saw Jesus as completely approachable with their need, and they knew He loved "Lazarus."  As I write these words, our Son is in danger's way in Afghanistan and our daughter is having health problems.   Can I say what Lazarus' "sisters" said, "The ones you love are in need"?  I can, because in infinite love, Jesus died on the cross for both of our children.  You can pray with this kind of confidence that God loves you and He loves your loved ones as well.

Notice, Lazarus' "sisters" did not express their concern about "Lazarus" based on how much they loved Jesus and on how hospitable they were to Him.  No, instead, they brought their concern to Him based on His love for "Lazarus."  So, should Jesus' love for us be the basis for our prayers.

"Mary" and "Martha" did not carry their concern only on their own shoulders, they shared their need, concern, and pain with their good friend Jesus.  This reminds me of a song: "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear."  "Mary" and "Martha" shared their grief with Him on that day so many years ago.  We can share our burdens with Him today also.

Lazarus' sickness and eventual death brings up the whole issue of why a loving God allows sickness to happen to those He loves.  We can feel, as many do, that sickness either means that God is not all-powerful, that He is not all-loving, or that he does not exist.  Many atheists are disappointed with God and have turned away from Him because of something bad that has happened to them.  Lazarus' "sisters" may have been shocked that "the one" Jesus loved was "sick."  The NIV omits a word that is in the the NASB and the KJV.  The word is "Behold."  "Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick." (NASB)

We can tell, though, by the sickness that occurs in our lives, the lives of others, and even the sickness that occurred during the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles that God has a loving, providential, and wise purpose for the heartaches that we face.  Jeremiah 29:11 has been helpful to many in times of pain and trouble.  "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)  He had that type of plan for "Lazarus."  We will see that in the coming verses. See also Psalm 119:71; Romans 8:28

"When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.'"  We see here that Lazarus' sickness was not a punishment for his sinfulness, but God would use his sickness to reveal His power and love.    God would also use Lazarus' sickness to reveal to us that Jesus is His Son.  Ultimately, Lazarus' resurrection from the dead points to Jesus being glorified when He resurrected from the dead. See 7:39, 12:16,23, 13:31  Still further ahead, it points to Jesus being glorified when God raises us who have believed in Him from the dead.  At that time, we will say something like Paul's words in Romans 8:18: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." 

"Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days."  Here, we see one of the most perplexing parts of God's relationship with us: He operates according to His plans and in His time rather than according to our plans and in our time.  "Mary and her sister" would rather that Jesus rushed immediately to Lazarus' side, yet Jesus waits "two more days."  John even says that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."  Then, John says that "he stayed where he was two more days." 

Few parts of the Christian life are more difficult for us than going through a painful time and nothing happens.  We pray and pray and there is no answer from God.  Jesus "waited . . . two more days" and it took Him still more time to travel to where "Lazarus" was located.  Jesus' waiting meant that the two sisters were also waiting.  When we are waiting, we can wonder if God is paying attention to what is going on down here.

Actually, Jesus' waiting was more loving than healing "Lazarus" immediately.  Which would reveal Jesus' power and love for them more, healing "Lazarus" immediately or raising him from the dead after he was in the grave four days?  "Hence, what may have looked like a cruel delay was in reality the tenderest concern for the spiritual welfare of true disciples." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 
It was not only for the "welfare" of "Mary," "Martha," "Lazarus," and Jesus' disciples at that time, but the delay and the raising of "Lazarus" from the dead has benefitted all of us who are Jesus' followers throughout time.  We can be encouraged that while we are waiting for God's help, His delay is not due to his lack of power or because He does not love us.  As Jesus clearly loved the people in this family, so He loves us.  His delay certainly had a loving and wise reason behind it.  It was not at all due to any type of indifference to how it affected people.  As Jesus' delay encouraged His followers at that time, so it can encourage us during God's delays today.  As wise parents do not immediately step in to protect their children from all trouble, so Jesus allows tough times in our lives as part of His wise and loving parenting of us. See Hebrews 12:1-13; James 1:2-8; Romans 5:3-5

And so, when we ask the question: "How could Jesus love us and allow this trouble to happen to us?"; we can remember that His love for us sometimes includes delays and inaction on His part.  Just as He had a higher purpose in this tragic incident with the family of "Lazarus," so He has a higher purpose when He does not respond immediately to our trials.  Years ago, we put Weed and Feed on our backyard.  We could not allow our little dog out in the yard at that time until the poison was washed off when we watered the lawn.  Our little dog was frantic, not understanding why she could not go out in the backyard.  She might have thought: "I thought you loved me.  If you loved me you would let me out in the backyard."  We still loved her, though, and God still loves us when we cannot understand why He allows troubles to come into our lives.

While the sisters were waiting, a messenger came from Jesus and gave them His words for them: "This sickness will not end in death."  But, it did "end in death," they must have thought.  So, they waited, painfully mourning the death of their brother.

"Then he said to his disciples, 'Let us go back to Judea.' 'But Rabbi,' they said, 'a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?' Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.'"  The last time Jesus was in Judea, the Jews there tried to stone Him and arrest Him. See 10:30-33, 39  His disciples were shocked that He wanted to walk right into the lions' den and face certain danger.  What does Jesus mean by His answer to them?  What does walking in the "day" and walking in the "night" have to do with Him returning to the place where His enemies were located?  Jesus was saying that if He walked in the light of God's plan, He had nothing to fear.  His "night" would come when He would be arrested, subjected to a cruel and totally unjust trial, be tortured, and finally be murdered in the most heartless way.  But, until that day, He was safe obeying His Father. See John 12:35-36 

"Jesus . . . tells them that the real danger is not from the murder-minded Jewish leaders in Judea.  The only real danger comes from walking by night, walking outside of the Father's will and His timetable." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

We also can do the work God desires us to do until our night comes.  So, while it is day, we still have time to serve God in the way and manner He desires for us to serve Him.  "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." (Colossians 4:5)  See also Ephesians 5:16

Jesus gave the following instructions to His disciples when He sent them out on their own.  "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." (Matthew 10:16-26)

Remember, there were no streetlights in Jesus' day.  Walking at "night" was like walking in complete darkness.  Years ago, in checking out a trail I was going to take a children's group on I accidently set my watch an hour earlier than it actually was.  So, when I got at the end of the 5-mile hike into the woods, it was 9 p.m. instead of the 8 p.m. that I thought it was.  I came back on the trial in pitch dark.  I heard a large animal near me at one time, but I could not see what type of animal it was.  That type of walking in darkness is what Jesus was talking about.  In our lives, the darkness of the end of our life has not come.  We still have time to walk in the "day."

"After he had said this, he went on to tell them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.' His disciples replied, 'Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.' Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'"  Jesus' words about the death of His follower "Lazarus" helps us to face our own death without fear.  He said that "Lazarus has fallen asleep."  Then, He says that He is going "to wake him up."  Christians who have died are referred to in the Bible as having "fallen asleep in" Christ. See Acts 7:60; I Thessalonians 4:13-17; I Corinthians 15:6,18,20, 55-56; II Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21-23, 3:20-21  Our death does not mean annihilation or that we will be judged for all of our sins.  Instead, we will fall asleep and will be wakened by Jesus. 

Ray Stedman relates the following story to help us to see what death will be like for Christians.  "When Peter Marshall was Chaplain to the United States Senate, he told of a twelve-year-old boy who knew he was dying.  The boy asked his father, 'What is it like to die?'  The father hugged his son to himself and said, 'Son, do your remember when you were little and you used to come and sit on my lap in the big chair in the living room?  I would tell you a story, read you a book, or sing you a song and you would go to sleep in my arms.  Later, you would wake up in your own bed.  That is what it's like to die.  When you wake up from death, you are in a place of security and safety and beauty.'" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

"So then he told them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe."  We may be surprised at Jesus' words here: "I am glad that I was not there."  Jesus literally said, "Lazarus" is dead and "I am glad."  Death is so completely out of our control that we cannot be "glad" when a loved one dies (though we may be relieved that his or her suffering is over).  But Jesus has complete power over death.  He looked at the death of "Lazarus" differently than we do.  He, of course, knew that He could easily raise "Lazarus" from the "dead."  And, when His followers saw "Lazarus" come up from the grave, they would believe in Jesus' power over death.  Certainly, Lazarus' resurrection from the dead and Jesus' resurrection gave them great courage to be fearless in the face of death.  Jesus was "glad" about the impact that Lazarus' resurrection would have on them.

"Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'" "Thomas"and "Didymus" mean "twin" in Aramaic and Greek.  We know nothing of Thomas' twin. See also 20:24, 21:2  There is some "Thomas" in all of us.  We get agitated when it seems that following and trusting in Jesus is not leading us toward victory but toward defeat and failure.  "Oh well, let us go and obey God even though it is going to be disastrous."  "As R. H. Strachan said, 'There was not expectant faith, but loyal despair.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  "Thomas" was saying, "If we return to Judea with Jesus, we are all going to be killed or arrested.  But, though it is going to have no good purpose, 'Let us . . . go, that we may die with him.'"  This attitude helped him earn his nickname, "doubting Thomas." See also 14:5, 20:24-28

A young friend of mine admitted that there were times when he lost his patience just before he learned that he had nothing to get upset about.  If Thomas had trusted God, he would have seen a short time later that there was nothing to get upset about.  We all can be like that (or at least I know that I can), we can stop trusting God and learn later that we should have kept trusting Him.

There are at least two reasons not to be critical of "Thomas."  (1) He did express his true feelings.  The other disciples probably felt just like he did, but they did not express their true feelings.  We see in the Psalms, in Habakkuk, and in Job that God welcomes us to express our true feelings.  (2) He was courageous and loyal even though he was sure they were going to die.  So, off he goes continuing to stand beside Jesus.

b. Jesus' comforting words about eternal life (11:17-37)

(1) Comforting words to Martha (11:17-27)
"On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha answered, 'I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' 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?' 'Yes, Lord,' she told him, 'I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.'"

Thought Question:  Has there been a time when you have believed in God, but your faith was mixed with doubt?  Please describe that time and how it is similar to Martha's faith described here.

 

 

"On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home."  "Martha" and "Mary" were going through a very painful time when Jesus arrived.  Most adults have attended a funeral.  The close family members usually feel it much more deeply than do the friends of the person who died.  But friends who share in the mourning are appreciated by the family.  In Jewish culture this was particularly true.  Everyone close to the family mourned together with the family.  There were seven days of mourning, which included three days of weeping.  "Deep mourning lasted for seven days, of which three were days of weeping." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

Jesus learned that "Lazarus" "had already been in the tomb for four days."  "According to a rabbinical tradition the soul of a deceased person hovers around the body for three days in the hope of reunion, but takes its final departure when it notices that the body has entered the state of decomposition." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  It is not certain whether or not the people of Bethany at that time had this view.  If they did believe in this superstition, Jesus' miracle of resurrection would have been even more significant to them.  "Normally in Palestine, because of the climate, burial followed death as quickly as possible." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." See Acts 5:6,9-10

"Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come"  Lazarus' death was well-known to the Jews in "Jerusalem," the central and most important city in Israel.

"When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.We learn in Luke 10:38-42 that "Martha" was a doer and "Mary" was more the thinker of the two.  So, we are not surprised that it was "Martha" that went out to meet Jesus.

"'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.'"  We see here in "Martha" the same type of mixture of faith and disappointment with God that is often in us.  We all identify with the father who said these words: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)  "Martha" expresses her disappointment with Jesus for having not been there when "Lazarus" was sick, so that He could have healed him before he died.  But, she also expresses faith that Jesus could still ask the Father and He will give Jesus "whatever" He asks.

Do we not often have this same type of mixture of feelings inside of us.  I know that I do.  The Bible helps us believe that just as Jesus loved "Martha" and "Mary,"" so He also loves us and is patient and compassionate with us.  As we will see in the following verse, "Martha" did not believe that Jesus would raise "Lazarus" from the dead.  She was just stating her confidence in Jesus' authority to heal people.  Possibly, as Ray Stedman suggested, she was expressing her confidence that Jesus could heal her grief. See 11:38-40

"Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha answered, 'I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' 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?'"  At first, when Jesus said to "Martha," "Your brother will rise again," she thought He was not telling her anything new.  She already knew that "Lazarus" would "rise again in the resurrection at the last day."  But, Jesus was telling her something new, as she would soon find out.

Jesus continues, though, to teach her who she was standing next to.  "'I am the resurrection and the life."  In other words, it is His nature to give life to the dead.  All of us who are Christians have experienced His "resurrection" from spiritual deadness.  He "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, . . " (Ephesians 2:5-6)

Jesus was saying to "Martha" that he would not only be "the resurrection and the life" at the end of life—"at the last day," but He is "the resurrection and the life" right now.  He said, "I am [now] the resurrection and the life." 

I believe that there is something more profound in these words than what we first realize.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, they died and all mankind that was born after them died.  Jesus as the second and last Adam came to reverse the state of death that has plagued mankind all of these centuries.  "For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)  We just need to believe in Him and death is replaced with life—His life.

"whoever lives and believes in me"  "One article ties the two closely together; life and faith must be understood in the closest connection." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  Those living-believing people "will never die."  I hope that describes every person who reads these words.  "who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

"He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;"  "Lazarus" did die, and Christians still do die, but that death is not the end—that death is not the final state.  We will "live, even though" we die.  We can have such a "ho-hum" attitude about this wonderful reality.  "and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."  The literal Greek words say, "shall not die forever (eternal death)." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press." 

"As Dwight Moody once said, 'One day you will hear that D. L. Moody of Northfield, Massachusetts is dead.  Don't believe it!  In that day I will be more alive than I have ever been before.'" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  I talked on the phone with Ray Stedman shortly before he died.  He also is "more alive" now than he has "ever been before." 

Jesus asks "Martha, 'Do you believe this?' 'Yes, Lord,' she told him, 'I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.'"  "Martha" believed that Jesus is the Messiah, "the Son of God," and that He is the One whom God promised was coming.  She got it!  She understood so much.  Just like Peter, she understood who Jesus is.  "Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matthew 16:16)  But, still "Martha" did not understand that Jesus had the power to raise "Lazarus" from the dead and raise from the dead spiritually and physically all those who believe on Him.  She, nevertheless, believed on Him and was one of those who has been raised from the dead by Jesus.

"I believe" "Believe" is in the perfect tense indicating that she believed in the past and that state of belief had continued up to that moment in Martha's life.

We can be like "Martha."  We believe, but we do not understand all that God wants us to believe.  Paul knew that the Ephesian Christians did not understand with spiritual eyes all that was true of them as Christians.  He prayed that God would open their spiritual eyes.  "For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 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, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church," (Ephesians 1:15-22)

May we pray that God would also open our spiritual eyes so that we may more fully understand all that we have as a result our faith in Jesus as the Messiah and "the Son of God."

(2) Comforting words to Mary (11:28-37)
"And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. 'The Teacher is here,' she said, 'and is asking for you.' When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' he asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how he loved him!' But some of them said, 'Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?'"

Thought Question #1:  Why are the words, "Jesus wept" helpful to you?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you believe "Jesus wept"?

 

 

"And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. 'The Teacher is here,' she said, 'and is asking for you.' When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there."  "Martha" left Jesus and went to "Mary."  She tells "Mary" that Jesus was "asking" to see her.  But, when the people who were "comforting" "Mary" saw her getting up and "quickly" leaving; they supposed that she was going to the "tomb to mourn."  This crowd would then go to the "tomb" and, therefore, be at the "tomb" to observe Lazarus' resurrection.

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'"  "Mary is found three times in the Gospel record, and each time she is at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39; John 11:32, 12:3).  She sat at His feet and listened to His word;  she fell at His feet and poured out her sorrow; and she came to His feet to give Him praise and worship.  Mary's only recorded words in the Gospels are given in John 11:32 [in this verse], and they echo what Martha had already said (v. 21)." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."  Both "Martha" and "Mary" responded much the same as we often respond in times of tragedy.  We are sad that God did not intervene and change the outcome.  But, now it is too late.

"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled."  These few words should be of great comfort to every Christian.  In recent years, I have realized how out of perspective my perception of Jesus is.  I, like many, have wondered if Jesus really understands the pain we go through.  My recent change is to realize that I do not understand the pain that He goes through.  Here, we see Him "deeply moved in spirit and troubled" as He views the mourning and the tears over Lazarus' death.  As Jesus looks on at a world of sorrow and sin, how does He in His infinite heart feel about it all?  There are verses in the Bible that tell us.  "The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain." (Genesis 6:5-6)  God understands our pain; we cannot possibly understand the depths of His pain.

On the day when "Mary" and the crowd came to Jesus, He saw their emotion and was also "moved" with emotion.  Jesus was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." (Isaiah 53:3 KJV)  He understands our deep emotion and pain, for He experienced this type of emotion Himself; and he has experienced a depth of emotional empathy for the sorrows of others that goes beyond anything that we have felt for others. See Mark 1:40-42

"deeply moved" is difficult to translate because it, in other verses, is translated as describing a stern attitude.  "and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, 'See that no one knows about this.'" (Matthew 9:30)  "Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 'See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.'" (Mark 1:43-44)  "'It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.' And they rebuked her harshly." (Mark 14:5)  Hendriksen believed, though, that the context dictates "that the translation was deeply moved in the spirit is the best [translation]." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

"'Where have you laid him?' he asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied.'"  Here, we face a key question about the God-man Jesus Christ.  He asks men where "Lazarus" is buried.  Did He not know everything?  I believe that at times Jesus was given supernatural knowledge by the Father, but at other times He needed to learn as we need to learn.  "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52)  "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36)  There is disagreement among Christians, though, on how much Jesus exercised divine omniscience while He was on earth. 

"Jesus wept."  I have found, through the years, that memorizing verses in the Bible has been one of my richest experiences.  When I use these verses in some type of Bible study, those verses become even more embedded in my thinking and my heart as the result of my constantly repeating them.  Here is a verse that anyone can memorize.  It is the shortest verse in the Bible: "Jesus wept." 

Though it is very short, it is also one of the most important verses in the Bible.  We are not told exactly when this happened.  Ray Stedman presumed that it happened as Jesus was walking to the tomb.  We can be sure, though, that He was not crying because of Lazarus' death, for He was about to raise him from the dead.  Why, then, did He cry?  He "wept" because He shared the sorrow of those who were weeping for "Lazarus."  We humans tend to get emotional when we are around those who are experiencing deep emotional pain.  I have, on a number of occasions, been with a family shortly after a close loved one had just died.  I have deeply felt their loss along with them.  Jesus shared emotionally as "Martha," "Mary," and their friends mourned the loss of "Lazarus"; and He "wept."  "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15)

"In this shortest of verses in the Bible the noteworthy thing is that a different word is used for weeping from that used of Mary and the Jews.  The word used of them denotes a loud demonstrative form of mourning, a wailing.  That used here (and here only in the New Testament) points rather to a quiet weeping." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

In recent years, I have seen views change about whether or not a man should cry.  For years, the view had been that real men show no emotion.  But, then, there was the view that men should also cry as women do.  Then, still more recently, men are once more criticized and seen as weak when they show emotion.  One of the best quarterbacks in the NFL was interviewed on television a short time before the writing of these words.  As he shared how elated he was when he was selected in the NFL draft, he broke into tears, showing how much it had meant to his family and him that a team wanted him.  His tears were mocked and seen as weakness by the sports' media.  Should a real man show tears?  The answer is found in this verse: "Jesus wept."  It was said of Charles Spurgeon that he was qualified to preach on hell, for he could not do it without tears.

"Then the Jews said, 'See how he loved him!' But some of them said, 'Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?'Again, we are able to see how this crowd of normal people in Israel felt about Jesus.  Some saw His tears as showing His love for "Lazarus," and others saw Him as a failure—as one who failed to heal "Lazarus" as he had healed the blind man.  In their minds, if Jesus really loved "Lazarus," then why did He let him die.  Do we not hear these type of words expressed today—if God loves us, then why does He not prevent bad from happening to us and others?

"'See how he loved him!'"  Can we insert our name in place of "him"?  The answer is, "Yes!"  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

c. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. (11:38-44)
"Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 'Take away the stone,' he said. 'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.' Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.' When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'"

Thought Question:  In what ways does Jesus' power to raise "Lazarus" from the dead encourage you?

 

 

"Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 'Take away the stone,' he said. 'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.'In the KJV it says: "by this time he stinketh."  In Martha's mind, it was too late for Jesus to do anything—Lazarus' body was already in a state decomposition.  She believed that Jesus was "the Son of God" (ll:27), but after "Lazarus" had been dead "for four days," it was too late even for Jesus.

"Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.'"

Jesus corrects Martha's lack of faith.  He reminds her that He had said that He had promised that God would be glorified through her brother's death. See 11:3-4, 23, 25-26  "Martha," though, had lost her hope that God would be glorified through her brother's death.  We say "seeing is believing."  Jesus desired her to believe and then she would see.  She did not believe.  So, she would soon see, and then she would believe.

Martha's unbelief in God's unlimited power is contrasted with Jesus' belief that His Father heard Him and would soon do what Jesus had promised that He would do.  Jesus verbally expresses His belief that His Father was listening so that it would become obvious to those that were there that He was "sent" by God.

Jesus' pattern of doing all that He did in perfect teamwork with the Father is to be our pattern also.  "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)  We should seek each moment of the day to be guided by and to be dependent on the Father, just as Jesus was dependent on the Father.  And, then, we are to give glory to God for anything that is done by us; for He is the One who guided us and empowered us to be effective in this work.

And, so, "the stone" was removed from the tomb as Jesus commanded.  And, then, the crowd waited in anticipation of what would happen next.

"When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'"A Puritan writer said that if Jesus had not named Lazarus when He shouted, He would have emptied the whole cemetery." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."  The people that were looking at the entrance of the tomb saw in an unmistakable way that Jesus had power even over death.  For standing in front of them was the once-dead "Lazarus"—alive, breathing, and walking, still wrapped in his grave clothes!  Later, those who believed in Jesus would see the resurrected Jesus walking and talking with them.  Jesus indeed is "the resurrection and the life."  On the basis of His resurrection power, we have confidence that "whoever lives and believes in" Him "will never die."

d. The rejection of the miracle (11:45-57)

(1) The plot to kill Jesus and the reason behind it (11:45-53)
"Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. 'What are we accomplishing?' they asked. 'Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.' Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, 'You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.' He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life."

Thought Question:  What do we learn from "Caiaphas" and the other religious leaders about what we do not want to be like?

 

 

"Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.Some saw the plain evidence that Jesus had power from God to raise the dead and they believed in Him.  But, that was not true of everyone.  Again, "the people were divided because of Jesus." (John 7:43)

"But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done."  They saw a wonderful and good miracle and did what was evil—they sided with His enemies.

"Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. 'What are we accomplishing?' they asked. 'Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.'"  What is the bottom line here?  Is it whether or not Jesus is the promised Messiah sent from God?  The miracles gave support  to the position that He was who He claimed to be.  No, the bottom line is that they could lose their "place" of power.

We see in these words something remarkable.  They acknowledged that Jesus was performing miracles.  These miracles, though, were not seen as a good thing, but as a bad thing.  It was creating a threat to their place of prestige in Israel.  Jesus was becoming the person that the people admired rather than them—they were becoming marginalized as His popularity grew.  The same happened to John the Baptist.  We see his response in John 3. "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.'" (John 3:26-30)

We also see here that the Pharisees are exasperated, not knowing what to do about Jesus' ongoing success and popularity.  "What are we accomplishing?"  The implied answer is, "Nothing."

Robertson points out the similarity here between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the modern politicians who put getting reelected and gathering funds from lobbyists as more important than what is good for the people he or she represents.  They were "like modern politicians who make the fate of the country turn on their getting the jobs which they are seeking." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  Sadly, nothing has changed.

"place"  The Greek word topos can refer to a position of authority, but it can also refer to a "place" or location.  Hendriksen believed that it referred to Israel's "place" of worship—the temple of Jerusalem.  Others believe it refers to their position of leadership in Israel.  Nevertheless, if the temple was gone, the religious leaders' political power would also be gone.

"So here were the best men of the nation—at least in their own opinion.  There were chief priests in their robes; the chief priests were all Sadducees.  There were Pharisees, the 'holiest' men of all, in their phylacteries.  These met in holy council.  No doubt they opened their meeting with prayer.  And yet, what were they meeting for?  They were meeting to oppose a perfectly innocent man.  He was a man who had been doing great miracles, so great in fact that proper council would have been one on how to encourage His work and lead multitudes to follow Him." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

"Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, 'You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.'"  The Pharisees and Sadducees agreed that they were not doing a good job of stopping Jesus.  They had challenged Him, argued with Him, tried to trap Him, denounced Him, tried to stone Him, and tried to arrest Him.  But He kept on gaining popularity.  They were at their wits' end.  They needed a new policy that would stop Him.  "Caiaphas" gave them that policy.  Out of concern for their nation, Jesus must die.  That was what they convinced themselves of, but their real motivation was only self-interest and fear of losing power and prestige.

"Caiaphas" was the cold-hearted leader that gave them the solution.  The greatest love is to lay down one's life for another's best.  The greatest selfishness is to force another to lay down his life for our betterment.  Jesus provides an example of the greatest love; "Caiaphas" is an example of the greatest selfishness.  "Caiaphas" was not only heartless, he was also arrogant and rude: He said to the other religious leaders: "'You know nothing at all!He considered all that the others said to be stupid and worthless; and he considered what he had to say to be quite wise and insightful—he saw himself to be on a higher level than others.

Ray Stedman adds this observation about "Caiaphas":  "The philosophy of Caiaphas is that of a mafia don: 'If this guy gets in our way, there's only one thing to do: Terminate Him.  Rub Him out.  Waste Him.  It's better that one man die than that we lose control of the rackets."  Then he adds: "There are many people who operate by the same selfish, unprincipled philosophy today." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

"Politicians are often willing to make a sacrifice of the other fellow." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  "It is in the name of expediency and self-interest that the most terrible things are done." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

"That Caiaphas was a rude and sly manipulator, an opportunist, who did not know the meaning of fairness or justice and who was bent on having his own way 'by hook or crook,' is clear from the passages in which he is mentioned. (Matt. 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49, 18:18, 14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6)" "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

Caiaphas' philosophy that one man die for the country, in the end, did not work out—as evil plans eventually do not work out.  For, in A.D. 70, the Romans did exactly what Caiaphas feared.  The Romans did come and take away Israel's nationhood. See 11:48  The temple was leveled to the ground. "Since the destruction of Jerusalem took place  about A. D. 70 and since John was writing about A. D. 90, according to conservative estimates, no one who read the Gospel in John's day would miss the irony." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

"He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life."  Nothing worked out as "Caiaphas" plotted.  Jerusalem was destroyed and the political power of the religious leaders was destroyed with it.  Also, "Caiaphas" wanted to destroy Jesus Christ and stomp out the movement He had begun.  Instead, as John's readers realized, Jesus' death was the primary reason that the movement He started had grown to include Christ-followers both inside and outside of Israel.  Caiaphas' plan completely backfired and the very opposite of what he had wickedly planned is what took place.  "Caiaphas" meant it for evil; God meant it for good. See Genesis 50:20  It is to God's glory to use the very worst evil in men for His holy, loving, and gracious purposes.

Though Caiaphas' words were meant in an unholy way, his words were a prophecy of God that Jesus would indeed die for Israel.  Peter, later, put it this way: "This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)

Jesus' death for Israel and for all mankind is also predicted in the Old Testament.  "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. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken." (Isaiah 53:5-8)  The human and wicked "high priest" of Israel predicted that the heavenly High Priest Jesus Christ would die for the nation of Israel.  That did happen, but not at all like what "Caiaphas" intended.

And, so, "Caiaphas" and his evil cronies plotted to kill Jesus.  "So from that day on they plotted to take his life." (John 11:53)  "From that moment on, the only agenda item at every meeting of the Sanhedrin was 'Kill Jesus' . . . They didn't want to be 'confused by the facts.'  They simply wanted to eliminate the man who threatened their power and popularity." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

(2) Jesus eludes those who are trying to kill Him. (11:54-57)
"Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, 'What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the Feast at all?' But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him."

Thought Question:  What do you think that His disciples were thinking and feeling at this time?

 

 

"Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples."  Jesus was now an outcast.  "Jesus no longer moved about publicly."  He could no longer freely move about in Israel.  His "disciples" were also outcasts, for they were "disciples" of an outcast.  It was dangerous for them to be with Him.  He "withdrew" to a place north of Jerusalem where it was remote and where  there would be in less danger of stirring up hatred and antagonism toward Him.  "The hill country northeast of Jerusalem was thinly populated." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press." 

" When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover."  "Ceremonial defilement disqualified a man from keeping the Passover (Lev. 7:21; Num. 9:6 cf. II Chron 30:17f.)  Depending on what was involved the rites for purification might last as long as a week so that, with large numbers involved, it might be well to come to the city early.  The 'whited sepulchres' of which Jesus
spoke (Matt. 23:27) were whitewashed to make them conspicuous so that people at festival time would not contract defilement accidentally." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris in footnote.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co." See 18:28

"They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, 'What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the Feast at all?'"  The people of Israel that had gathered in Jerusalem were obviously aware that their leaders were seeking to arrest and kill Jesus.  Their conclusion was that Jesus was not going to walk into Jerusalem and be killed.  They thought that he would stay in hiding.  They were constantly looking for Him, but they did not really expect to see Him.

"But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.Jesus was the most wanted man in Israel.  There was only one man on the Ten Most Wanted List: Jesus.  And so the stage is set for the sure arrest of Jesus as He is about to enter the lions' den called Jerusalem—the city that was supposed to be the city of God.  "What a picture of traditional religion—that is religion without the divine life.  It hardens the heart, dulls the conscience, narrows the mind, and sets the will against the true God who is revealed in Jesus." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

12. Preparation for the cross (12)

a. Mary's anointing of Jesus (12:1-8)
"Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 'Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.' He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 'Leave her alone,' Jesus replied. 'It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that Mary was right in what she did and Judas was wrong in what he said?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How were the heart attitudes of Mary and Judas different?

 

 

"Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.Jesus returns to "Bethany," the home of "Mary," "Martha," and "Lazarus."  It is a day before Palm Sunday and a week before His death.  "Bethany" is about 2 miles from Jerusalem.  A meal is "given in Jesus' honor." 

"From Matthew and Mark we learn this was held in the house of Simon the Leper." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." See Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9  It appears that Matthew and Mark describe this event as taking place later in the week.  John Walvoord provides the solution: "Matthew and Mark . . . do not give the exact date and apparently are not reciting events in their strict chronological order." "Taken from Matthew by John Walvoord.  Copyright 1974 by Moody Press."

"Martha served,"  There are different ways of showing our love and honor toward someone.  It is quite obvious that "Martha" showed her love and honor toward Jesus by serving Him.

"Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.John makes it clear that "Lazarus" was indeed raised from the dead, for here he is leading, once more, a normal life.

"Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."  "Nard" "is an aromatic herb grown in the high pasture-land of the Himalayas, between Tibet and India.  In view of the fact that it had to be procured in a region so remote, and carried on camel-back through miles and miles of mountain-passes, it was very high-priced." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

We learn in Mark 14:5 that the perfume could have been sold for more than a years' wages.  Why did Mary pour out her very precious possession on Jesus' feet?  It appears that she may have been one of the only persons who really understood that Jesus was about to die for our sins. Listen to her words in Matthew 26:2: "As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."  Another person that appeared to understand that Jesus would die for our sins was John the Baptist.  Listen to his words in John 1:29: "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 the Baptist knew that Jesus would become the sacrificial Lamb predicted in the Old Testament who would die for our sins.

As "Mary" sat at  Jesus' feet and listened, He may have found one person He could share with about His purpose in becoming a man.  Between Jesus and "Mary" there was an understanding of what was ahead for Him that the others at the table did not understand.  Add to this the fact that she knew that the Jewish leaders had put Jesus on the very most wanted list.  She saw the storm clouds gathering, while the others would be shocked when it happened. 

"Mary" took advantage of this opportunity to express her love to Jesus in a very extravagant way.  How greatly she loved him for being her Savior, for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead, and for loving her in a very personal way.  She became totally lost in her expression of love, and poured all her "perfume" on Jesus' feet—she did not save some for a later time.  Then, in a total lack of self-consciousness, she bowed down and "wiped his feet with her hair." 

"We see love's unselfconsciousness.  Mary wiped Jesus's feet with the hair of her head.  In Palestine no respectable woman would ever appear in public with her hair unbound.  On the day a girl was married her hair was bound up, and never again would she be seen in public with her long tresses flowing loose.  That was a sign of an immoral woman.  But Mary never even thought of that. . . Mary loved Jesus so much that it was nothing to her what others thought." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

Also the fact that she put the perfume on Jesus' feet was an act of humility.  "To attend to the feet was the task of the most lowly slave." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co." 

The house was filled with the "fragrance" of her perfume and with the "fragrance" of her love for Jesus.  The "fragrance" of her love has spread beyond that house.  "I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Mark 14:9)  Note: Matthew and Mark tell us that she also poured the perfume on Jesus' head.

What does this say to us?  If we love Jesus, there is nothing that is too expensive or too much to give to Him to express our love for him.  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)

Note: The account in Luke 7:36-50 of a woman anointing Jesus occurred early in Jesus' ministry and is a separate occasion from the account described here, in Matthew 26:6-13, and in Luke 14:3-9

"But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 'Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.' He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it."  These are the first words of "Judas" recorded in the Bible.  In "Mary" we see one whose heart was pure and selfless.   In "Judas" we see the very opposite—his heart was impure and selfish.  The bottom-line for "Judas" was, "What's in it for me?"

John, at the time that this happened, did not know what Judas was like.  As he wrote these words, some time later, though, John knew that "Judas" had been a "thief" who stole money from "the money bag" that he was the "keeper of."  John also knew when he wrote these words that "Judas" did not care for "the poor," but that he was upset that the expensive perfume was not sold so he could get his greedy hands on the money that it was sold for.  Finally, John at the time that he wrote these words knew that "Judas" had betrayed the One who died for us.

What is in our hearts?  Do we see Jesus as the One who sacrificially loves us and do we with a pure heart desire to give our life as a sacrifice out of gratitude for His sacrifice to us, or are we using His church for our selfish purposes?  "Out of his greed, Judas eventually sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver, an amount probably equal to one hundred and twenty denarii.  Mary gave Jesus an offering worth two and a half times that amount.  Judas kept the bag, from which he pilfered.  Mary broke her box in order that all might be given to Jesus." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

We have a model in "Mary" of what a pure-hearted Christian is like and in "Judas" of what an impure-hearted relationship with Christ and His church is like.  May we all seek to be like "Mary."

"'Leave her alone,' Jesus replied. 'It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.'Now, we see how Jesus looked upon this extravagant anointing with perfume done by "Mary."  Did He agree with "Judas" that the money could have been better used to help "the poor"?  No, He does not allow the greedy "Judas" to have the last word on Mary's sacrificial act of love.  He defends her as He defends us before the Father when Satan accuses us. See I John 2:1

It is always good to give to the poor (see Deuteronomy 15:11), but at the time shortly before Jesus' death, Mary's act of love was a much more appropriate use of her perfume.  Mary's act of love certainly meant more to Jesus than we will ever know on this side of eternity. 

b. The hatred grows (12:9-11)
"Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him."

Thought Question:  How can we recognize it when the motives of modern church people are like the motives of these religious leaders?  (Can it happen today?)

 

 

"Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him."

Now, we look at Jesus  and "Lazarus" through the eyes of "the chief priests."  They resented all the attention that Jesus and "Lazarus" were getting.  Their solution to the attention that Jesus the healer was getting and the evidence that "Lazarus" was raised from the dead by Jesus was to eliminate both of them by killing them.  Their solution was to kill two innocent men.  As someone has said, "It is difficult to conceive of a greater proof of hardened and incorrigible wickedness of heart than this."

c. The triumphal entry (12:12-16)
"The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna!' 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' 'Blessed is the King of Israel!' Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 'Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.' At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about what type of kingdom Jesus was offering to Israel and to us?

 

 

"The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna!' 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' 'Blessed is the King of Israel!' Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it,"  And, so, Jesus is heading toward those who are plotting to kill Him.  He knows full well what is ahead of Him, yet He continues toward Jerusalem. 

" . . . he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)  Certainly, as the crowds flocked toward Him and called Him "the King of Israel," his enemies are even more incited and become even more determined to kill Him.  "They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 'We are going up to Jerusalem,' he said, 'and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.'" (Mark 10:32-34) 

Jesus drew the crowds at this point, but He was not going to Jerusalem to gather crowds and be crowned as Israel's "King," He was going to "Israel" to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  He came to the Passover to offer Himself as the Passover Lamb. See I Corinthians 5:7

He knew that this momentary applause of men would soon change to shouts of "Crucify Him."  Someone has said that this was not the triumphal entry but the tearful entry.  "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.'" (Luke 19:41-44)

The "palm branches" was Israel's way of receiving their promised King.   "Hosanna!" means "Save."  They meant "Save us now from the Romans!"  Jesus did come to save them and He came as the Savior, but He came to save them from their sins—from the penalty for our sins, from the power of our sins, and ultimately from the presence of sin.  When the Maccabees rescued Israel from the Syrian leader Antioches Epiphanes who murderously attempted to replace their Jewish beliefs and culture with Greek beliefs and culture, they were greeted with palm leaves. (I Macabees 13:51; II Macabees 10:7)  "Bernard notes that to carry palms was a mark of triumphant homage to a victor or a king." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press." 

According to the book of Revelation, Jesus will be greeted in heaven with "palm branches."  " After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands." (Revelation 7:9)

The people were quoting Psalm 118:25-26.  Right before what they were quoting in Psalm 118 are these familiar words that predict what was about to happen to Jesus.  "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;" (Psalm 118:22)  Israel was about to reject the One who is now the "cornerstone" or "capstone" of God's church. See also Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; I Peter 2:7

Jesus came in humility and gentleness.  He came not on a mighty stallion but "on a donkey's colt."  "The ass was used by judges and kings in the Old Testament on errands of peace; the horse was used mainly as a charger for battle." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." 

This fulfilled a prophecy about the Messiah's coming in Zechariah 9:9:  " Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."  Zechariah prophesied after Israel's exile under the rule of Babylon and Medo-Persia.  They were a humbled nation without a king.  Zechariah prophesied that their future king would come riding "on a donkey's colt."   Daniel, in Daniel 9,  predicts the exact day that this would occur.  "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." (Daniel 9:25-26a)

His humble entry shows that He came not to take people by force into His kingdom, but he came to offer a kingdom of the heart—where He rules inside of those who voluntarily from the heart choose Him to be their King.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)  We can receive or reject Him as our King.  "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:11-12)

"At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.They were expecting that Jesus would take the world by force as the kings of that time did.  They did not see until later that he came to take the people by love as people chose to enter into a love relationship with Him.

d. The hatred of Jesus grows even greater. (12:17-19)
"Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, 'See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!'"

Thought Question:  What do you believe was the heart-attitude difference between those who "spread the word" and those who resented His popularity?  (What can we do so that we are like the former and not at all like the latter?)

 

 

"Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, 'See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!'So, Jesus the great divider, divided people in Israel into those who believed in Him and those who hated Him.  He left those who hated Him with no choice—we must kill Him and we must kill Him now!

e. Jesus' death predicted (12:20-36)

(1) Jesus predicts His death. (12:20-26)
"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. Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.'"

Thought Question:  What does Jesus mean by "unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed"?

 

 

"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.These "Greeks" were probably God-fearing Gentiles who had gone from paganism to believing in the God of Israel.  They may have been expecting that Jesus was soon to become Israel's king.  If they had heard about the triumphal entry, that would have been a reasonable conclusion for them.  They wanted to talk to Jesus and learn about Him.  They may have come to "Philip" because he had a Greek name.  "Philip" goes to "Andrew," and then "Andrew" and "Philip" go to Jesus.  What they heard was that Jesus would not soon become the king of Israel.  Instead, they heard these words.

"Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.'"  The "hour" "for the Son of Man to be glorified" sounds like it is "the hour" for Jesus to become King of Israel.  But, instead, it is the "hour" for Jesus to die. See 13:31-32

Jesus, in the past, said it was not yet the time for Him to be glorified.  "'Dear woman, why do you involve me?' Jesus replied. 'My time has not yet come." (John 2:4) "Therefore Jesus told them, 'The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.'" (John 7:6)  "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)  Now, it is the time for Him to fulfill His purpose in becoming a man.  "The hour has come" "is in the perfect tense, 'the hour has come and is still with us.'" "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

Jesus uses a very earthy example to explain what was going to happen in a short time.  It is something that is so obvious, but most miss it.  All around us are all kinds of plants—grass, flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables.  What was necessary for them all to exist?  Seeds needed to die so that each plant would be able to sprout from the ground.  So, Jesus predicted here that He needed to die so Spiritual life would sprout in all of us through the ages who have believed in Him.

Those "Greeks" appear to never have talked to Jesus.  But, because of His death, they may have become some of the Gentile world that became part of the early church.  For Jesus did not die just for the nation of Israel, He died for the whole world—which includes those "Greeks" that came to "Philip" so many years ago.

"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."  Not only did Jesus need to die to accomplish His purpose, so also do we need to die to accomplish His purpose for us on earth.  The clear message of the Bible is that for us to experience God's life, we must die as Jesus died.  "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)

George Mueller was an English Christian known for his faith in God's provision as he served God through his ministry to the children in his orphanages.  When he was asked what was the reason for his effective service to God, "he replied, 'there was a day when I died—died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure, died to the approval or blame of my brethren or friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

The teaching of Jesus that death must precede life is found throughout the Gospels.  "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:37-39)  "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" (Mark 8:34) See also Luke 9:23, 14:25-27

The "self" we must "deny" is the selfish desire to get the glory and the credit.  The desire to be lifted up and praised rather than that praise all going to Jesus Christ.  It is not denying comforts and certain types of foods for the purpose of winning a gold medal or some other type of honor for ourselves.  It is the denying of any type of honor for ourselves.  It is dying to living for ourselves, and it is serving in God's strength so that people may know God's love and beauty.  It is continuing to serve God completely even when what we do gets no recognition or even is despised.

"'Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.'"  "Serves me" and "follow me" are in the present tense, indicating continual serving and continual following of Jesus.  What, then, did Jesus mean by "Where I am, my servant also will be"?  Where was Jesus?  One place where He was, was on a cross.  And He was hanging there for us.  Another place where He was, was washing His disciples' dirty feet.  Another place where He was, was being misunderstood.  Are we willing to be where He was, and where He is today?  "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8)  That is where Jesus is, and if we are His servant, we will be there also.

"My Father will honor the one who serves me.'"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:10)  God honors those who humbly serve His Son just like He honored His Son's service to us.  "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

(2) Jesus' death will glorify the Father. (12:27-30)
"'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.' The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, 'This voice was for your benefit, not mine.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that Jesus' was "troubled"?  (Should we ever be "troubled"?)

 

 

"'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!'   Israel was expecting the coming of the "Son of Man" predicted 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."  Jesus called Himself the "Son of Man" on many occasions. See 1:51, 3:13-14, 6:27,53,62, 8:28, 9:35, 12:23, 34, 13:31  But, they did not expect a "troubled" "Son of Man."  Yet, here, He is "troubled."  He was "troubled" because He was about to experience a horror that no one had ever experienced and that no one has experienced since.  Many have faced death calmly, but no one has ever had before them the certainty that he or she is about to pay the penalty for every sin of every man that has ever lived or will ever live.  Jesus was about to experience this horror when He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  He was also "troubled" at Gethsemane.  "He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.' Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'" (Matthew 26:37-39)  "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44)

So, these verses are the Gethsemane of John.  It shows that Jesus was not just "troubled" at Gethsemane.  It must have been on His heart for some time, and what was ahead for Him "troubled" Him more as the hour drew near.

He was greatly "troubled," but He also knew that what was ahead for Him was the "reason" He "came" to earth.  He, then, exclaims He desire that the "Father" would "glorify" His "name" through what was about to happen to Him.  He was about to be part of the greatest and most wonderful expression of love that has ever taken place.  The most famous verse in the Bible states it: "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)  Jesus made the sacrifice so that we can spend eternity with Him.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)  We do not deserve heaven; we deserve hell.  Jesus took our hell so that we can share His heaven.  This sacrificial act of love by Him brought the "Father" great glory and will continue to bring Him great glory forever.  "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'" (Revelation 5:11-13)

Can we also make this goal the goal of our life?  No matter what difficulties we face, can we make our primary goal that God be glorified?  I can think of those who have suffered greatly yet brought God glory by the type of life they lived.  May we also follow Jesus' example and their example.  "Father, glorify your name!"

"Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.' The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, 'This voice was for your benefit, not mine.'This is the third time that the "Father" spoke audibly in support of His Son.  At Jesus' baptism, the "Father" spoke: "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3:17)  And the "Father" spoke when Jesus was transfigured on a mountain: "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'" (Matthew 17:5)

God's voice from heaven reminds us of Jesus speaking from heaven to Paul on the road to Damascus.  "As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked. 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.' The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone." (Acts 9:3-7)  "I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me." (Acts 22:7-9.

Since John records the exact words of the Father, it appears that though the crowd was shocked by this thundering voice from heaven, they were still able to understand the Father's words.  They heard the words of the "Father" in support of His Son.  As Jesus hung on the cross, He knew that His Father was in support of Him. See Psalm 22:23-31

(3) Jesus' death will draw all men to Him. (12:31-36)
"'Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.' He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd spoke up, 'We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this “Son of Man”?' Then Jesus told them, 'You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.' When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them."

Thought Question #1:  Does "draw all men to myself" mean every single person?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How was the "prince of this world" about to "be driven out"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  How does "You are going to have the light just a little while longer" apply to us today?

 

 

"'Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.'"  These words of Jesus can be perplexing to us.  Here we are 2,000 years after Jesus said these words and later died on the cross, and it is clear that Satan is still very much the ruler of this world.  How was "the prince of this world" "driven out" at the cross? See 14:30, 16:11; Ephesians 2:2  The answer is that Satan's hold on mankind was broken at the cross.  "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—" (Hebrews 2:14)  At the cross and resurrection of Jesus, He provided a way that we can be justified—the opposite of condemnation, experience eternal life beginning right now, and resist sin.  Jesus' wonderful victory over Satan at great cost to Himself provides this victory over sin for all who believe in Him.  For all of us who have believed in the cross, Satan is "driven out" out of our hearts as our ruler and replaced with Jesus as our Ruler.

"'But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.' He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die."  The cross has drawn men from all over the world to God.  The hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross" is one of the best known songs of all time.  An ugly instrument of torture and death is found hanging from a chain around many people's necks.  It has became beautiful to those who believe that Jesus hung an that cross as the greatest act of love ever expressed.  Men and women are drawn to God by it.  Nothing is more beautiful in the world than to know that I, as sinful as I am, can come to God because Jesus was hanging there for me.  What I feel is echoed in hearts too numerous to count.

"Draw" is in the present tense, indicating that the cross is continually drawing people to God.  Also, notice that men are drawn to Christ, not driven to Him.  Satan forces himself on men's hearts; we are drawn voluntarily to Christ.

"He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die."  We are left with no doubt about the meaning of "lifted up."  "Lifted up" describes Jesus being "lifted up" and dying on the cross.  "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." (John 3:14-16)

"The crowd spoke up, 'We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this “Son of Man”?'"  Here is the voice of unbelief.  It is the voice of those who do not want to believe.  They throw back His words at Him in contempt.  As was mentioned earlier, the "Son of Man" is an exalted title given to the One who is worshiped as God 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." (Daniel 7:13-14) 

Here are some references in other places to this highly exalted "Son of Man":  "'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" (Matthew 26:64)  "I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone 'like a son of man,' dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'" (Revelation 1:12-18)  When they had contempt for Jesus the "Son of Man," they were showing contempt for Almighty God.

The title "Son of Man" "occurs sixty-nine times in the synoptic Gospels and twelve times in the Gospel of John." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  He is "the Christ" who "will remain forever."  The teaching that the Messiah or "the Christ" would die for our sins was clearly predicted in the Old Testament. See Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22  But that was not the type of "Son of Man" or "Christ" that the people of Israel wanted.  They wanted a conquering Messiah who would stay on earth "forever."  So, their minds were completely closed to this teaching and to Jesus' description of Himself that He "must be lifted up." 

Where did they get the teaching that "the Christ will remain forever"?  We cannot be certain, but the following verses are suggested by Hendriksen.  ". . . that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun;" (Psalm 89:36)  "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'" (Psalm 110:4)  "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:7)  "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." (Daniel 7:14)

So, what they said was true; but it was also true that "the Son of Man must be lifted up."  A typical human error is to focus on one biblical truth and exclude another biblical truth. 

"Then Jesus told them, 'You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.' When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.These words appear to be the last words of Jesus to the people of Israel.  John 13-17 were words spoken to His disciples and Jesus' words in 12:44-50 appear to be a quote of Jesus' words uttered at an earlier time.  John "does not say when Jesus spoke these words [12:44-50] (they may have been uttered earlier)." "NIV Study Bible note on 12:44."

If these words of Jesus in 12:35-36 are Jesus' last public words of teaching, they become the final invitation by Jesus to the people of Israel to believe on Him.  Jesus is saying that it is still not too late to believe on Him.  At that moment, the words that He was saying were still fresh.  The light was shining.  This is true for us in many ways.  We hear a sermon.  A truth becomes fresh to us.  What happens if we do not act on it?  The light in our mind goes out and our fresh memory quickly fades away.  "Rejected light is the parent of the densest darkness, and the man who, having the light, does not trust it, piles around himself thick clouds of obscurity and gloom, far more doleful and impenetrable than the twilight that glimmers around men who have never known the daylight of revelation." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  He quotes Maclaren.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." 

The people of Israel had a wonderful opportunity.  An opportunity like no other people of any time or place.  The "light of the world" was in their midst.  But that time was soon to end.  If they responded to the light, they would become "sons of light."  We can either reject the  "light" or reflect the "light." It is our choice.

We learn in 12:42 that many did believe on him.  "Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him."  (John 12:42a)

Then, the "light" left them.  "When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them."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." (John 1:4-5)  "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46)

f. Israel's unbelief explained (12:37-50)

(1) Why can't the world see who Jesus is? (12:37-40)
"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: 'He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.' Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him."

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses are people unable to believe or unwilling to believe?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  John says here that they "could not believe."  Does this describe a state they were born with or one that came about through their choices?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"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?'These words and the words that follow these words sum up the nation of Israel's response to Jesus' ministry.  These words also explain why the majority of people in Israel rejected their promised Messiah and why people still reject Him today.

Why did the majority of Israel reject their promised Messiah "even after Jesus did" all those "miraculous signs in their presence"?  The answer is that they "would not believe in him."  They did not "believe" because they did not want to "believe" in Him.  They could have believed, but they chose not to.

If you tell a young lady that her boyfriend was with another girl recently, she may not "believe" you because she does not want to "believe" you.  If someone does not want to "believe" that Jesus is God's Son, nothing you can say will convince him or her.  There is a song titled, "I Did It My Way."  Those who choose their way over God's way will not "believe" what we say about Jesus.  Jesus put it very clearly in John 7:17: "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)

John quotes Isaiah 53:1.  Isaiah 53 predicts Jesus' coming, His being rejected, and His ultimate death for our sins.  That chapter begun with the prediction that He and His gospel message would be rejected.  "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1)  Israel "would not believe" that "the arm of the Lord" was working through Jesus.  They were not interested in a Messiah who would die for their sins.

"For this reason they could not believe,"  "When a person starts to resist, something begins to change within him; and he comes to a place where he cannot believe.  There is a 'judicial blindness' that God permits to come over the eyes of people who do not take the truth seriously. . . . It is a serious thing to treat God's truth lightly, for a person could well miss his opportunity to be saved.  'Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.' (Isa. 55:6)." "Taken from Be Alive by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1988 by Victor Books."  In the beginning 'they would not' believe.  Afterwards they 'could not.' "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

"as Isaiah says elsewhere: 'He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.' Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.God, then, gives them the blindness that they have chosen for themselves.  Paul also speaks of self-delusion followed by God blinding the eyes of those who prefer delusion to truth in II Thessalonians 2:9-11:  "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." See also Romans 1:21-25, 28

John is quoting from Isaiah 6:10.  Jesus also quoted this verse in Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 5:12, and Luke 8:10.  It is also quoted in Acts 28:25 by Paul. See also Romans 11:8  This verse seems to be saying that God hardened them so that they would not turn to God and He would heal them.  But, is that not what God desires to do—to have men "turn" to Him so that He can "heal" them?  Rather, what Isaiah was saying is that the reason that they do not turn to God is they have rejected God.  Then, God has given them the blindness that they have chosen—a judicial blindness, and that is why they do not "turn" and are not healed.  "When people, of their own accord and after repeated threats and promises, reject him and spurn the message, then—and not until then—he hardens them, in order that those who were not willing to repent may not be able to repent." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

II Corinthians 4:4 says that it is also Satan that blinds men.  "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."  God turns them over to the blinding that Satan, the king of darkness, provides. 

"Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him."  "Isaiah," in Isaiah 6 speaks of seeing God's glory:  "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. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.'" (Isaiah 6:1-3)  Yet, here, John says he was speaking of seeing "Jesus' glory."  God's "glory" and "Jesus' glory," then, are the same "glory."  The Gospel of John and Jesus speak of "Jesus' glory."  "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." (John 1:1-3)  "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (John 17:5)  Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)

So, John explains, as Jesus' public ministry came to an end, that Israel's rejection of Jesus was predicted.  Why did Jesus stop His ministry when He did?  It is because the people had reached a place where most were hardened in unbelief.  More preaching, teaching, and miracles would not have led to more believing in Him.  The nation would not be converted; they would only get more hardened in their unbelief.  Stephen described Israel's rejection of Jesus and God's judgment on them.  "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it." (Acts 7:51-53)

(1) Why are some half-hearted believers? (12:42-43)
"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."

Thought Question:  Do you believe that those who "believed in him," here, were born-again Christians?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"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.Boice titles his chapter on these verses, "A Silent Majority."  What about people who secretly believe in Jesus Christ but are afraid to tell others about it?  Were these "leaders" true believers?  Are people who are afraid to identify themselves as believers born-again Christians?  Here are some verses that lead us to answer that question, "No."  "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?" (John 5:44)  "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God." (Luke 12:8-9)  "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)  "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" (James 2:14)  These verses appear to say that those who believe but are afraid to confess their faith are not Christians.

Here, there were religious leaders who believed in Jesus, but did not speak about it publicly "for fear" they would be excommunicated by the religious leaders.  If they professed their faith in Jesus, they become outcasts in the Jewish society and would not be allowed to participate in the religious life of Israel.  They did not speak out also because it would cost them their leadership position in Israel.

So, were they true believers who received eternal life as a result of their faith?  We must leave the final decision with Jesus Christ.  During early Christianity, many died as martyrs because they would not proclaim the Roman Emperor as their god.  Some who claimed that they were Christians, though, did proclaim the Emperor as their god so that they would not die.  After Christianity became acceptable in the Roman Empire under Constantine, it became an issue whether or not to accept into the church those who had once escaped death by proclaiming that the Emperor was god.  These are difficult choices to make.

I have found Jesus' Parable of the Weeds helpful in making these decisions.  There will be weeds that will grow along with the wheat.  It is not up to us to decide who are genuine Christians and who are not.  That will be decided by God and His angels at the last judgment. See Matthew 13:20, 36-43

In short, though, we should not be like those who "loved praise from men more than praise from God.It is clear that John does not approve of their type of secret faith.  As I heard someone say years ago: "Silence is not always golden; sometimes it is yellow."  Someone else said that some Christians act like "undercover Christians."  And, so, we must ask ourselves, "Do we want most of all to be esteemed by men or do we want most of all to please God?"

Nicodemus, at first, was fearful and chose to come to Jesus at night when it was safer to come to him.  " 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.'" (John 3:1-2)  But, later, his faith became public when He openly participated in the burial of Jesus. See John 20:38-40  The secret believers described here in 12:42-43 may, like Nicodemus, have become unashamed believers later.

(3) What did Jesus want the world to know about Him? (12:44-50)
"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. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.'"

Thought Question:  What is the "command" that "leads to eternal life" that we must obey?

 

 

"Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.'The most significant event in all of history was the life of one man.  It is because that one man was the "the Word" who became "flesh." (1:14)  He spoke God's words; He lived God's life before us.  He perfectly represented God because He was God in the flesh.  So, if we believe in Him, we do not believe in Him only, but we also believe in the One who sent Him.  These few words of Jesus sum up who He was and who He is.  Our responsibility is to believe in Him. See 3:16,21, 5:30, 7:16, 8:42, 10:30, 14:9

"What is God like?  The answer is that God is like Jesus." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Jesus is the most complete revelation that we have of what God is like.  Without Jesus, our knowledge about God would be very incomplete.  Because of Jesus, we know of God's compassion, patience, and sacrificial love for us—we see it in his patient relationship with sinners like us and we see it as He hung on the cross for us.  "Thank you for revealing Yourself to us through your Son!"

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."  When Jesus lived on this world, He turned on the light switch in a very dark world.  Suddenly, we are able to see what we were meant to be like.  "In him was life, and that life was the light of men." (John 1:4)  What is the right and pure way to live?  Whatever we do, we are able to twist our thinking until we believe that what we think and do is right and pure.  But what is truly right and pure?  The one word answer to this question is, "Jesus!" See 8:12, 9:5

How can we be pure and right?  To the degree we walk in the light of His presence, we will seek to be like Him and to confess our sins. See I John 1:5-2:11  "He is the only way out of the darkness of sin which enshrouds all men." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company." 

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it."  Jesus will come at a time in the future to judge, but His first coming was not to "judge the world, but to save it."  We read of His coming to judge the world in Revelation 19:11-16.  " 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."

But Jesus' purpose in His first coming was not for judgment, but to save us.  "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)  For two thousand years the offer of salvation has been available to us.  God's patience and kindness are meant to lead us to Him. See Romans 2:4

"There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it."  "Rejects" is in the present tense, indicating an on-going and continual rejecting.  The Disciples Literal New Testament puts "The one rejecting my words."

We can choose to continually reject Jesus, but we cannot choose whether or not we will be judged for rejecting Him—we will be judged if we reject Him.  Then, all who reject Him will have to admit that He is the Son of God and that all that He said was true, pure, wise, and what the "the Father" "commanded" Him "to say."  The very words of Jesus that were continually rejected will be a basis for God's judgment on us.

"'I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.'These words are the final words describing Jesus' public ministry.  It is the appeal that men and women would believe on Jesus and receive the eternal life that He offered.  It is the reason that Peter and Jesus' closest followers did not leave Him when others of His followers did choose to leave 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.'" (John 6:67-68) 

 "his command leads to eternal life."  What is the "command" we must obey to receive "eternal life"?  We see that "command" throughout the New Testament.  "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." (Acts 16:31)  "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 2:38)  "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)  "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (2 Thessalonians 1:8)  What must we obey to receive "eternal life"?  We must obey the gospel.  "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)  We receive "eternal life" by choosing to put our faith in Jesus and the salvation He came to offer us.

 

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