Download This  Study For Free!


Please feel free to Download this study.


The Gospel of John
Volume IV (18-21)

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 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 this 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!

THE PASSION OF CHRIST (18-19)

1. Jesus' arrest (18:1-11)

a. He freely gives Himself into His enemies' hands. (18:1-4)
"When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. 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?'"

Thought Question:  Why do you think that the religious leaders needed to arrest Jesus in an early hour of the morning, in a remote spot, and with such a large group of soldiers and people?

 

 

"When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it."  The tragedy of Jesus' life was about to begin.  Boice referred to a question on a literature test that applied to this part of Jesus' life:   "Is it possible to have a Christian tragedy?"  His answer: For those who truly understand God's wisdom, love, and sovereignty over all, there are no Christian tragedies; for in the end, all that happens in a Christian's life and in the world ultimately accomplishes God's purposes.  There will always be "triumph through tragedy."  In Jesus' life, "without the tragedy there really is no triumph." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  The triumph comes when we live through what would be classified as a tragedy believing in Romans 8:28:  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

"and crossed the Kidron Valley."  The "Kidron Valley" is to the east of Jerusalem.  Across from this valley is the mount of Olives.  On its western slope was the Garden of Gethsemane.  The name "Gethsemane" means "oil press."  It was a garden in the midst of olive trees. 

"On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it."  John does not identify this spot as the Garden of Gethsemane, but simply as "an olive grove."  Other translations translate the Greek word translated here as "grove" with the word "garden."  The NIV translates the same Greek word in John 19:21 as "garden."

John does not describe Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane, even though he along with Peter and James were the three who were with Jesus during His time of prayer in this Garden.  We can only speculate about why John omits what happened there, but it may be that he does not describe this time because it was already thoroughly described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. See Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; and Luke 22:40-46  Luke, like John, does not identify it as the Garden of Gethsemane, but simply as "the Mount of Olives." (Luke 22:39)

"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." 

The Disciples' Literal New Testament has a more exact translation of the NIV's words "who betrayed him."  "The one handing him over."  Because he was in the process of handing Jesus over to His enemies, John portrays Judas as at that time betraying Him.  Because Judas had been a trusted member of Jesus' closest followers, he was very familiar with Jesus' patterns and he knew right where to find Jesus.  Jesus also knew what Judas would do and went to the very spot where He regularly communed with His Father. 

"Judas" was guiding a small army in the darkness "carrying torches, lanterns and weapons."  It was a dark hour for more than one reason.  The small army included Roman soldiers (undoubtedly authorized by Pilate), temple police (see Luke 22:52), and a representation of the religious leaders of Israel—Sadducees, Pharisees, and the Sanhedrin.  Standing in opposition to Jesus was the whole authority structure in Israel.  And they were about to bring Him under their authority—this upstart miracle worker was about to see who was really in charge in Israel.

Why did these people in such places of power and authority need to sneak out into the darkness so they could arrest Jesus secretly?  I believe that they knew deep inside of themselves that Jesus was no mere man.  He commanded awe and respect.  The crowds saw that He spoke with authority.  He performed miracles that men were unable to explain away.  They had tried to arrest Him before without success. "The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. . . . 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." (John 7:32, 45-46)

As we will see by what happens next, they were fearful of Him and they did not know what would happen when they tried to arrest Him. See also 7:59, 10:39

"Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?'"  Jesus was not shocked at what this group of men was about to do to Him.  After Jesus' death, Peter described what happened to Jesus in 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 knew men and He knew what we are capable of; and He knew what was about to happen to Him.  So, He boldly asks them, "'Who is it you want?'"  The soldiers and the others may have thought that they would need to search for Jesus and that they would find Him hiding from them.  Instead, He boldly steps forward and comes right up to them.

b. His enemies feared Him. (18:5-6)
"'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."

Thought Question:  Why do you think that these who came to arrest Jesus "drew back and fell to the ground" when Jesus said, "I am he"?

 

 

"'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."  We are about to see what happens when Jesus' little band of men are overpowered by a much larger force.  But, it is apparent from how these seasoned soldiers responded when Jesus declared, "I am he," that this army of men was more afraid of Him than He was of them.  When "they drew back and fell to the ground," they showed that they knew that they were arresting the Son of God.

When he said, "I am he," He was also saying, "I am God."  When Jesus said, "I am," He was saying God's name.  "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'" (John 8:58)  Many or even all of the soldiers had seen Him perform miracles.  They knew that they were there to arrest no ordinary man.  It is no wonder that "they drew back and fell to the ground."  When people reject God today, and say they are atheists, they know the One they are rejecting is God. See Romans 1:18-25

c. He took care of His followers. (18:7-9)
"Again he asked them, 'Who is it you want?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' 'I told you that I am he,' Jesus answered. 'If you are looking for me, then let these men go.' This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: 'I have not lost one of those you gave me.'"

Thought Question:  Why does Jesus say that not one of His disciples were "lost," when all of His disciples were later to be martyred or jailed?

 

 

"Again he asked them, 'Who is it you want?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' 'I told you that I am he,' Jesus answered. 'If you are looking for me, then let these men go.' This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: 'I have not lost one of those you gave me.'"  Jesus knew what was ahead for Him, but even then, He did not focus on Himself.  This is so different from us.  When we are going though a heavy time, where is our focus?  Here, Jesus is going through the heaviest time of all, but still His focus is on the needs of others.   He  said, "If you are looking for me, then let these men go."

"This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: 'I have not lost one of those you gave me.'"  There are two other times when Jesus said these words.  "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." (John 6:39)  "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." (John 17:12) See also 10:28  Is Jesus saying that His disciples will be saved physically from their enemies?  The problem with this interpretation is that all of them were eventually jailed or died martyr's deaths.  For example, James the apostle died shortly after Jesus' ascension to heaven.  "It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword." (Acts 12:1-2)  Hendriksen gives this answer: "The only answer which satisfies is the one given by Calvin, Luther, Stalker, Evans, Lenski, and others.  It amounts to this: had the disciples at this time been captured by these soldiers and temple-guards, it would have been too severe a test for their faith.  They were not ready for this extreme ordeal, this torture.  Jesus knew this.  Hence, he sees to it that they are not arrested." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

d. Jesus was willing to drink the Father's cup. (18:10-11)
"Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'"

Thought Question:  Why do your believe that Jesus had the disciples take a sword and then is opposed to them using it? See Luke 22:36

 

 

"Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'"  We have to admire Peter's courage at this moment.  He was ready to take on an army that could easily have killed him.  But, Jesus quickly orders him to put away his "sword."  This is a message for all time.  Christ's kingdom is not to be conquered by force nor by the "sword."  Christ's followers are not to conquer the world with armies; but His kingdom is only spread as men, drawn to Him by His love and His truth, willingly receive Him as King of their hearts.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Peter's attack, but they do not give Peter's name.  Luke records that Jesus "touched the man's ear and healed him." (Luke 22:51a)  Only John names the High Priest's servant whose ear was cut off—"Malchus."  It may be that John could give Peter's name because his Gospel was the last of the Gospels and it was no longer possible for Peter to be arrested. See Luke 22:38,49

In Matthew, we learn that Jesus also said at this time, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."  If Peter had been more accurate and had killed "Malchus," then Christianity would have been started by Peter the murderer.

"'Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'"  What does Jesus mean by "the cup"?  He refers to this "cup" at other times as well. "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 26:39)  "'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" (Mark 14:36)  "'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.'" (Luke 22:42)

"In the Old Testament, the 'cup' often has associations of suffering and of the wrath of God (Ps. 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:15; Ezek. 23:21-33, etc.; cf. Rev. 14:10; 16:19)." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

"The cup" that Jesus needed to "drink" was 'the cup" filled with the wrath of God that needed to be paid due to the sins that had been committed and would be committed by mankind throughout time.  It was a "cup" of wrath because that is what our sins deserve. See also Matthew 20;22; Mark 10:39

Jesus, in Luke 22:36, says the following:  "He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'"  Why did Jesus tell the disciples to get a sword and then tell Peter to put his sword away?  Barclay gives this answer: "This was not an incitement [Luke 22:36] to armed force.  It was simply a vivid eastern way of telling the disciples that their very lives were at stake." "Taken from the The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by The Westminster Press."  Constable gives these thoughts on this question.  "Apparently Jesus wanted His disciples to arm themselves with personal preparedness—including dependence on God and His Word—for the impending crisis.  He was calling on them to be ready for hardship and self-sacrifice.  Some commentators took Jesus' command literally. The 'money-belt' and 'bag' may indicate that they should provide for their own subsistence, since no one else would. However, this was not the case in the early days of the church or even during Jesus' passion. There were still other
believers who looked out for one another (e.g., Acts 1:3, 15; 2:44-47).
Some take the command to sell one's outer garment to purchase a sword
literally as well. However, Jesus later rebuked Peter for using a sword to
defend himself (Matt. 26:52). Furthermore, Jesus never taught His
disciples to arm themselves in order to defend themselves, much less take
active aggression against those who might oppose them (cf. 6:35-36;
22:52; et al.)." "Dr. Constable's Notes on Luke 22:36"

2. Jesus before Annas the former high priest (18:12-24)

a. Jesus taken to Annas (18:12-14)
"Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about how leaders can do the wrong thing and yet believe it is the right thing to do?

 

 

"Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year."  The One who came to set men free is "bound" by the religious leaders of Israel.  How did they get so mixed up?  When selfish motives dominate, everything does get mixed up.  "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." (James 3:16) 

Who is this "Annas"?  Lawrence introduces us to this man.  "He is one of the most notorious figures in Jewish history.  He had the office of High Priest for only five or six years—twenty years before this time, and must have been now at least in his eighties.  He had no fewer than five of his own sons fill the office after him, besides his son-in-law Caiaphas and one grandson.  He had come originally from Alexandria in Egypt on the invitation of Herod the Great.  He and his family became ambitious, arrogant, and powerful.  As their members multiplied, they promoted themselves into all the important offices." "Taken from The Six Trials of Christ by John Lawrence.  Copyright 1977 by Know Your Bible Hour, p. 59." 

"Annas" was the religious god-father of Israel.  It is believed that "Annas" was behind the corrupt business in the temple courts that Jesus so despised when He cleansed the temple.   "Now we can see why Annas arranged that Jesus should be brought first to him.  Jesus was the man who attacked Annas's vested interest; he had cleared the Temple of the sellers of victims and hit Annas where it hurt—in his pocket.  Annas wanted to be the first to gloat over the capture of the disturbing Galilaean." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  It is probably true that "Annas" was the one who was behind the arrest and eventual murder of Jesus.

"who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year."  "Caiaphas" was the man who advised the Jews that it would be good if "one man die for the people."  "Caiaphas" recommended Jesus' death as necessary for the good of  Israel.  Shortly after Jesus became an issue because He raised Lazarus from the dead, "Caiaphas" made the following recommendation:  "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.'" (John 11:45-50)

Again, we are shocked at how twisted everything had gotten.  Jesus did something wonderfully good by raising a dead man to life.  So, He must be killed.  Good by all means must be eliminated by murder.  And, it was the religious leaders who were behind it.  It is an ends-justify-the-means way of looking at life.  Something that is clearly wrong becomes acceptable because it is seen as having a good outcome for the majority.

There is an issue among Bible scholars as to whether the trial described in 18:19-23 took place before "Annas" or "Caiaphas."  Since John said that "Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest," in 18:24, we can conclude that the trial in 18:19-27 was before "Annas."  The fact that the interrogator is called "the high priest" (18:19) is not a problem for "Annas" was still looked upon by Israel as the "high priest" of Israel, even thought the Romans did not recognize him as "high priest."  "Annas" is also called "high priest" in Luke 3:2 and Acts 4:6: "during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert." (Luke 3:2)  "Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family." (Acts 4:6)

b. Peter's first denial (18:15-18)
"Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. 'You are not one of his disciples, are you?' the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, 'I am not.' It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself."

Thought Question:  What do you think was the reason that Peter, who had just drawn his sword to defend Jesus, now timidly denies Jesus to a servant girl? (Could it have happened to us?)

 

 

"Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in."  Who was the one referred to as "another disciple," who was also "known to the high priest"?  Traditions says it was John, the author of this Gospel.  He appears not to want to brag about his courage in staying close to Jesus and not denying Him.  John and Peter were also together at the resurrections.  "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'" (John 20:1-2) See 20:1-9, 21:20-24  See also Acts 4:1-31

An argument against this "another disciple" being John is that it is unlikely that a Galilean fisherman would have been "known to the high priest."  Morris mentions that "other names have been suggested such as Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  The fact, though, that John identifies himself in similar ways all through the Gospel of John, makes it likely that he is referring to himself here.  Also, his Gospel is the only one that gives the name of the high priest's servant, indicating an intimate knowledge of the high priest and his household.  "Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)" (John 18:10)

An apparent problem is harmonizing the Matthew 26 account with this account is that Matthew says this event took place in the courtyard of Caiaphas and John tells us it was in the courtyard of Annas.  "Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome." (Matthew 26:57-58)  Next, we compare this with the account in John 18.  "and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year." (John 18:13)  "Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard," (John 18:15)  "Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest." (John 18:24)  A possible solution is that both "Annas" and "Caiaphas" lived in the same palace with an adjoining courtyard.

"'You are not one of his disciples, are you?' the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, 'I am not.' It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself." 

Earlier, Peter had confidently stated that he would never deny Jesus.  "Peter replied, 'Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.'" (Matthew 26:33) Why, then, did Peter fail so miserably?  It was not because Peter was completely lacking in courage.  Only Peter came to Jesus' defense with a sword when He was arrested.  Only Peter and John followed Jesus into the high priest's courtyard.  And, remember that Peter had just drawn a sword on the high priest's servant.  What if someone recognized him and remembered his act of violence against this man.  But, Peter, like all of us, was not aware of his human weakness.  We all need to pray, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:13)  Peter had put himself into a very vulnerable position.  By warming himself at the fire and seeking to fit in like he was one of Jesus' enemies, he made himself vulnerable to the temptation to try to fit in by denying that he was one of Jesus' followers.  Could it have happened to us?  The answer is, "Yes."  If it could happen to the dedicated and courageous Peter, it could happen to any of us.  "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" (I Corinthians 10:12)  " Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." (Psalm 1:1)

The girl also made it easy for Peter to deny Jesus.  Her question assumed that he was not a follower of Jesus.  "'You are not one of his disciples, are you?'"  "It was not a formal accusation.  It was not even a very strenuous challenge." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

What can we learn from Peter's fall?  We need to be careful not to be cocky and overconfident.  We need to realize how weak we are without a constant reliance upon God.  We need to seek to understand what God teaches us about ourselves in the Bible.  There is a term that is used in alcoholism treatment centers to explain why some alcoholics do not learn how powerless they are to overcome their addiction.  They feel that they are "unique"—they are "terminally unique."  We are also powerless against sin without a constant reliance about God's Spirit.  The truth is that without a continual reliance upon Jesus, we will also fall.

c. Annas Questions Jesus (18:19-24)
"Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 'I have spoken openly to the world,' Jesus replied. 'I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.' When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. 'Is this the way you answer the high priest?' he demanded. 'If I said something wrong,' Jesus replied, 'testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?' Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest."

Thought Question:  How did Jesus fulfill the predictions about Him by His response to the "high priest" and to the official that "struck him"?

 

 

"Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 'I have spoken openly to the world,' Jesus replied. 'I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.'"  Since "Annas" sends Jesus to Caiaphas in verse 24, we can only conclude that the "high priest" here is "Annas."  Just like past presidents, governors, senators, and others are called by the title they had before (for example, President Carter), so, "Annas" was still referred to as "the high priest." 

"Annas" was going against the guidelines of the Jewish legal law here, for it was illegal for a judge to try to get the accused to incriminate himself.  Jesus holds "Annas" accountable for trying to get Him to incriminate Himself.

Also, Jesus had nothing to hide.  He had spoken publicly.  Certainly, there were those that were in the room or in the vicinity who had heard Him teach.

Since Jesus had just spoken privately to His closest followers, how could Jesus say He had said "said nothing in secret"?  "What He means is that He did not have two kinds of teachings, a harmless one for the general public and a very different one for the secret revolutionaries.  What He said to the disciples did but unfold the implications of His words to men a large.  The essence of His teaching was public property." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co." See 8:26

There is much that is ironic in what was taking place.  The earthly "high priest" was putting the true High Priest on trial.  The one who was secretly arresting and interrogating Jesus in the darkness of night is questioning the "Light of the world" who had nothing to hide and who was quite open about His teachings—He did not teach in the darkness of night, but in the light of day.  The One on trial was pure in His motives and actions; the one judging Him was impure and twisted in his motives and actions.  One day, it will be reversed—"Annas" will stand before Jesus as his Judge.

Jesus' trial, by the standards of justice in Israel was unjust and illegal in many ways.  First of all, trials were to take place in the day and not in the night.  "'Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspended at night' (Sanhedrin 4,1)." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Second, "no court could lawfully meet on a Sabbath or other feast day, nor on a day preceding a Sabbath or feast." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Third, a trial and conviction could not take place on the same day.  "For capital offense the verdict of acquittal could be given on the same day, but the verdict of guilty had to be reserved for the following day." "Taken from The Six Trials of Christ by John Lawrence.  Copyright 1977 by Know Your Bible Hour."

Fourth, "The condemned was not executed on the day on which the sentence was passed. "Lawrence"

Fifth, "The trial was illegal because it secured a condemnation of Jesus on the basis of His own confession." "Boice" 

There are more reasons why Jesus' trial was unjust, but the examples just given make it clear that the religious leaders needed to purposely blind themselves to all of the good practices of justice in Israel so they could carry out their ugly scheme to give the impression that Jesus was fairly judged, found guilty, and executed.  It was all done beginning late in the night and completed shortly before the Sabbath began the next day.

"the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples"  Why was "Annas" interested in Jesus' disciples?  He may have been asking about how successful Jesus was in gaining a following.  He may have been asking, "How many followers do you have?"—"How threatening is your movement to us?" 

"When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. 'Is this the way you answer the high priest?' he demanded. 'If I said something wrong,' Jesus replied, 'testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?'"  Those whose case is weak often get louder or get physical in an attempt to make their side of the issue seem like it is stronger than it actually is.  In other words, they are saying, "My side is right because I am louder, more forceful, and we outnumber you."  This soldier saw that the "high priest" had no just answer to the truth of Jesus' words, but he was in the position of power over Jesus, so he "struck him in the face."  This soldier, long dead, knows now the foolishness and the wickedness of what he did that day.

Jesus does "turn the other cheek."  He does not react emotionally or lash out at the soldier physically in the same way as the soldier reacted to Him.  The soldier, for example, was not struck dead.  Instead, Jesus calmly asserts His innocence and invites the soldier to give Him one just reason why He "struck" Him.  "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." (Isaiah 53:7)

Here, we have another example of the unfairness of the trial.  Can we imagine a witness seeking to answer a question being harshly hit by an armed sheriff in a courtroom?  It is, though, what took place in Jesus' trial.  Also, "no judge is to allow violence in a trial.  Yet the judge never censured this servant.  Why?  Because he approved of this act being done, and he became an accomplice to it, especially when this violence was committed under the pretense of avenging the alleged affront to his dignity." "Lawrence" See Matthew 26:67; John 19:3; Acts 23:12

"Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest."  "Annas" was unsuccessful in getting Jesus to incriminate Himself.  The first stage of the trial is over.  The verdict on "Annas" and "the official" is that they were completely guilty.

3. Peter's second and third denials (18:25-27)
"As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, 'You are not one of his disciples, are you?' He denied it, saying, 'I am not.' One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, 'Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?' Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow."

Thought Question:  What do you believe blinded Peter to the fact that he was doing just what Jesus predicted that he would do?

 

 

"As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, 'You are not one of his disciples, are you?' He denied it, saying, 'I am not.'"  A lie to a servant girl led to a more public lie to group of people.  One lie led to another.

As we look at the accounts of Peter's denials in the four Gospels, it becomes apparent that Peter denied Jesus more than three times.  In fact, there are as many as eight denials.  John Lawrence lists eight denials in his book The Six Trials of Christ.  The following is a possible list of Peter's denials: 1) trial before Annas ato the girl at the door (John 18:17); 2) standing by the fire (John 18:24-25); 3) sitting by the fire (Luke 22:55-57); 4) to the same woman (Mark 14:66-70); 5) to another woman and with an oath (Matthew 26:69-72); 6) to a man (Luke 22:58); 7) to a servant of the high priest and a relative of Malchus (John 18:26-27); and   8) before a crowd and with an oath (Matthew 26:73-75; Mark 14:70-72; Luke 22:59-62). There was an interval of an hour between the denials in Luke.  "About an hour later another asserted, 'Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.'"

Another possibility is that Peter was asked by more than one person before he made his different denials.  Different Gospels, then, record different person's questions.  This would lower the number of Peter's denials.

Jesus did not predict that Peter would deny Him exactly three times before the cock crowed twice (see Mark 14:30), but He predicted that Peter would not be able to make it through the night and up until a cock crowed without denying Him at least three times.  Each of the Gospels records but three of these denials.  Each Gospel "is content to record just three denials out of the many that took place.  It took only three to fulfill the prediction of Christ, and to record more than this would be only adding insult to an already pathetic situation." "Taken from The Six Trials of Christ by John Lawrence.  Copyright 1977 by Know Your Bible Hour." See Matthew 26:34; Mark 14:30; Luke 22:34;and John 13:38 for accounts of Jesus' predictions that Peter would deny Him.   See Matthew 26:71-75; Mark 14:69-72; and Luke 22:58-62 for the other accounts of Peter's denials.

"One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, 'Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?' Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow."  This questioner most certainly struck fear into Peter's heart.  He had actually seen Peter strike his relative with a sword.  Peter uses the method of a guilty person: "deny, deny, deny."  This servant could not have seen Peter clearly in the darkness in the garden, so Peter's denial is successful.

"at that moment a rooster began to crow."  Luke records what took place next.  "About an hour later another asserted, 'Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.' Peter replied, 'Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!' Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly." (Luke 22:59-62)  Peter came face to face with his own human weakness.  Jesus had always known Peter's weakness.  Now, Peter also knows it.  Jesus also knows our weakness.  He uses our failures to help us to see them.  Later, Jesus commissioned the humbler Peter to an important role in His church: "feed my sheep." (21:17)

4. Jesus before Pilate (18:28-40)

a. The indictment (18:28-32)
"Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, 'What charges are you bringing against this man?' 'If he were not a criminal,' they replied, 'we would not have handed him over to you.' Pilate said, 'Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.' 'But we have no right to execute anyone,' the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe the Jews were so scrupulous about seeking to "avoid ceremonial" cleanness, and yet were in the process of unjustly murdering a man?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Did not Jesus eat "the Passover" meal the night before?  What did they mean by "eat the Passover"?

 

 

"Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover." The trial before Caiaphas is not described in the Gospel of John. See Matthew 26:57-68 and Mark 14:53  Another stage of Jesus' trial that took place before the Sanhedrin is also not recorded. See Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1; and Luke 22:66-71 

The Jews wanted to remain ceremonially clean while their hearts were completely morally unclean with envy, hatred, and murder.  They could not see any good in the One who was all good.  "Nothing in this world warps a man's judgment as hatred does.  Once a man allows himself to hate, he can neither think nor see straight, now listen without distortion.  Hatred is a terrible thing because it takes the senses away." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  The Jews had this type of hatred toward Jesus.

Why could they not enter Pilate's palace and why would it make them unclean?  The Old Testament does not teach this.  Barclay offers this explanation: "First, the scribal law said: 'The dwelling places of Gentiles are unclean.  Second, the Passover was a Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Part of the preparation for it was a ceremonial search for leaven, and the banishing of every particle of leaven from every house because it was the symbol of evil.  To go into Pilate's headquarters would have been to go into a place where leaven might be found." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." See also Acts 10:28, 11:3

It is easy to see the parallel in our day.  We can be meticulously careful that our church services, Sunday school classes, and other church programs run smoothly and without a problem; but at the same time we may not be so careful that our hearts are pure from hatred, immorality, pride, and greed.  May we make every effort that we do not fall into the error of "the Jews."

Why did they need to take Jesus before Pilate at all?  The Romans allowed the Jews to try and judge criminals, but they were not allowed to give the death penalty—only the Romans could do that.  So, they needed Pilate so that they could legally murder Jesus.  "Pilate said, 'Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.' 'But we have no right to execute anyone,' the Jews objected." (John 18:31)

"they wanted to be able to eat the Passover."  Did not Jesus and His disciples eat the Passover meal the night before?  What is meant here by "eat the Passover"?  The "Passover" may refer to the meals throughout the "Passover" week and Feast of Unleavened Bread.  II Chronicles 30:21-22 supports this view.  "The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the Lord every day, accompanied by the Lord’s instruments of praise. Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the Lord. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praised the Lord, the God of their fathers."  "There are eight other examples of pascha in John's Gospel and in all of them the feast is meant, not the supper.  If we follow John's use of the word, it is the feast here, not the meal of John 13:2 which was the regular passover meal." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

Another possibility is that the Jewish leaders had been so busy in the plotting to arrest Jesus that they had not yet gotten around to eating the "Passover" meal.

"So Pilate came out to them and asked, 'What charges are you bringing against this man?'"  What do we know about this man "Pilate""Pilate" had gotten in trouble with the Jews shortly after he became the Roman Procurator.  "The former Procurators had ordered the removal of the images of the Emperor from the standards of Roman soldiers before marching them into Jerusalem, in order to avoid the appearance of the worship of the Caesars, and so offend the Jews.  Pontius Pilate did no such thing.  He forces this hated emblem on them, even though later he retracted." "Taken from The Six Trials of Christ by John Lawrence.  Copyright 1977 by Know Your Bible Hour." See also Luke 13:1-3

John gives us more detail on this trial before Pilate than the other Gospels.  He was present when it occurred.  But, some aspects of the trial are not recorded by John.  "He does not mention the initial accusation (Luke 23:2), nor the repeated accusations by the priests (Matt. 27:12), nor the priests' agitation for Barabbas (Matt. 27:20; Mark 15:11)." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

Wiersbe summarizes the three parts of the trial before Pilate: "The feast appearance before Pilate (John 18:28-38), the appearance before Herod (Luke 23:6-12), and the second appearance before Pilate (John 18:39-19:16); and see Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; and Luke 23:13-25)." "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."

"'If he were not a criminal,' they replied, 'we would not have handed him over to you.'"  We immediately see the bitterness of "the Jews" toward "Pilate."  They resented needing "Pilate" and the Romans playing any role in their justice—or we should say, in their injustice.  We can tell from the Gospel accounts that "Pilate" and the Jewish leaders hated each other.  Yet, ultimately, they united in the crucifixion of Jesus. See Luke 23:2 for the charges they made against Jesus. "And they began to accuse him, saying, 'We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.'"

"Pilate" finds himself in a dilemma.  The Emperor wants him to keep peace in Israel.  Jesus is very popular among the people; but, nevertheless, "the Jews" (the Jewish religious leaders) want Him to be publicly and legally executed.  Pilate's response to them, therefore, is understandable.  "Pilate said, 'Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.'"  But his attempt to pass the responsibility to "the Jews" was not successful.  The responsibility remained on his shoulders.

"'But we have no right to execute anyone,' the Jews objected."  We do, though, have one example where they did execute someone.  They stoned the early Christian Stephen to death. See Acts 7:54-60  But, what they did then was a mob action and was illegal—there was not even a trial.  Also, they attempted to stone Jesus to death on two occasions. See John 8:58-59, 10:30-32  But, though they could determine that someone deserved the death penalty, they could not, because of Roman law, legally execute anyone.

"This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled."  Both the Old Testament and Jesus predict that Jesus would not die by stoning, but that He would die with His hands and feet pierced, lifted up on a tree.  "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up," (John 3:14)  "So Jesus said, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.'" (John 8:28)  "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32)  "If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance." (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)  "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" (Galatians 3:13)  "Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet." (Psalm 22:16)

b. Pilate's examination of Jesus (18:33-35)
"Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, 'Are you the king of the Jews?' 'Is that your own idea,' Jesus asked, 'or did others talk to you about me?' 'Am I a Jew?' Pilate replied. 'It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?'"

Thought Question:  How did the innocent Jesus avoid being intimidated by Pilate? (How can it help us not to be intimidated when falsely accused?)

 

 

"Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, 'Are you the king of the Jews?' 'Is that your own idea,' Jesus asked, 'or did others talk to you about me?'"  Pilate must have asked this question. "Are you king of the Jews?" in a demeaning and ridiculing way.  Jesus looked nothing like a king to him.  In other words, "As you stand before me without an army and dressed in a poor man's clothes, "Are you the king of the Jews?" This first question of Jesus by Pilate is found in all four Gospels. See Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3 

Jesus, the Son of God, puts "Pilate" on trial: "'Is that you own idea . . . or did others talk to you about me?'"  It appears that Jesus wants to know if this is a sincere question from "Pilate," or if he is just repeating the charge made by the Jews.  The King of the universe is asking this Roman underling what are his reasons for asking this question. 

"'Am I a Jew?' Pilate replied. 'It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?'"  "Pilate" obviously did not like it that that he was being put on trial.  He reacts strongly to Jesus' question.  He is basically saying that he is not a puppet of the Jews.  He will decide for himself whether Jesus is innocent or guilty.

"Pilate's" response is very human.  We fallen humans typically do not like it when our motives are questioned.  "Pilate's" motives were, at the very least, questionable.  Jesus always peers deep within us at the core of our motives; just as He looked deep into "Pilate's" heart and saw what his motives were.  Are we like "Pilate" and react when our motives are questioned by God or do we invite God to reveal to us our true motives?  "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)

c. Jesus' defense (18:36-38a)
"Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.' 'You are a king, then!' said Pilate. Jesus answered, 'You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'  'What is truth?' Pilate asked."

Thought Question:  How can we tell if we are "on the side of truth" and are those who are willing to truly listen to Jesus?

 

 

"Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.'"  Here, Jesus explains the difference between His kingdom and the type of kingdom that the Jews desired.  The Jews wanted a king like Alexander the Great who would defeat the military of Rome and replace the Roman Empire with a Jewish Empire.  Jesus' kingdom, however, was to be a kingdom where He would rule in the hearts of men and women who desire to be like Him—holy, loving, and truthful in character.  His kingdom was not a threat militarily to the Roman Empire.  He, though, was a threat to the lifestyle of the people in the Roman Empire.

Again, Jesus does not advocate that Christians conquer the world with military might.  "Onward Christian Soldiers" is not to be sung with a military battle in mind.  The Islamic world still remember the Crusades when Christian armies came to attack Islamic armies.  Jesus is not an advocate of His church seeking to extend His kingdom in this way.
"'You are a king, then!' said Pilate. Jesus answered, 'You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'" See Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3  Jesus distinguishes Himself here from all other humans.  His origin did not begin with His human birth.  He existed outside of this world before His human birth.  Then, He was "born" and "came into the world."  His purpose for being "born" and for coming "into the world" was "to testify to the truth."  He came to reveal to us what is true and real—to reveal reality to us.

"Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'"  Here, we have an invitation to "Pilate."  If you are "on the side of truth," you will listen "to me."  Was "Pilate" searching for the "truth"?  If he was, he would have become part of Jesus' kingdom.  Then, the conversation would have gone much differently from that moment on.

Who are those who are on "the side of truth"?  Those who have a Calvinistic perspective on the Bible would say that it is only those God has chosen and regenerated who are on "the side of truth."  According to them, no one has any interest in the truth until he or she is born again by God's Spirit and becomes a Christian.  The other possibility is that those "on the side of truth" are those who have come to recognize that they are poor in this life without God, slaves to sin, and are, therefore, ready for God's solution to their dilemma.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)  "But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13:23)  "Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." (John 4:35)  "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." (Romans 6:17)

"'What is truth?' Pilate asked."  "Pilate" answers Jesus' invitation to be one of those in His eternal and heavenly kingdom of "truth" with a question.  "Pilate" was like the obstinate agnostic of our day.  He was like the university professor who laughs at the idea that we can know "the truth."  He was like the hardened television comedian of today who regularly makes fun of Christians.  In short, "Pilate's" heart was hard and he had no interest in seeking 'the truth" that Jesus spoke of.

Our culture has so many competing philosophies, religions, and cults all offering a different version of truth.  Post-modernism says each person should choose his or her own truth and no one should say that he or she has found "the truth."  You choose the truth that works for you.  But Jesus claimed to be "the truth."   "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)  There is no way to know "the truth" apart from coming to know Him.

c. The Jewish rejection of Jesus (18:38b-40)
"With this he went out again to the Jews and said, 'I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release “the king of the Jews”?' They shouted back, 'No, not him! Give us Barabbas!' Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe the people chose a guilty man over the innocent Jesus?

 

 

"With this he went out again to the Jews and said, 'I find no basis for a charge against him.'"  "Pilate" found Jesus innocent.  Pilate declares Jesus' innocence two other times as well. See 19:4,6; Luke 23:14-15 See also Luke 23:4  "Pilate" found Him innocent because He was innocent.  Jesus asked His enemies, "Can you find me guilty of sin?" (John 8:46a)  Judas knew He was innocent.  "'I have sinned,' he said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood.'" (Matthew 27:4a)  He was the Passover Lamb "without defect." (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 22:19) See Leviticus 22:17-25  Peter declares that He was "without blemish or defect" in I Peter 1:19.

"'But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release “the king of the Jews”?' They shouted back, 'No, not him! Give us Barabbas!' Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion."  The ESV, the Disciples' Literal Translation, and the NASV say that "Barabbas" "was a robber."  Matthew calls him "a notorious prisoner" (Matthew 27:16)  Mark says "Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists." (Mark 15:7) See also Luke 23:19  Mark and Luke also say "Barabbas" was in prison for "murder." (Luke 23:19)

John leaves out other events that took place at this time that are recorded in the other Gospels.  He leaves out a warning that "Pilate" received from his wife as a result of a dream that she had. See Luke 27:19  Furthermore, John leaves out "Pilate" taking Jesus to King Herod. See Luke 23:6-17  And John leaves out "Pilate" washing his hands of Jesus' blood.  "When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. 'I am innocent of this man’s blood,' he said. 'It is your responsibility!' All the people answered, 'Let his blood be on us and on our children!'" (Matthew 27:24-25)
We learn much from "Pilate's" attempt to get Jesus released as part of a custom of the Jews.  First of all, "Pilate" did not want to give the death penalty to a man he had just declared to be innocent.  Can we imagine that happening today in our country?  A judge declares a man innocent and, later, has him beaten and executed.
"Pilate" was looking for a way to release Jesus in the most peaceful way possible.  Rather than releasing Jesus then and there, which he knew would irritate the Jews who had already declared him guilty, he tried to come up with a way to do the right thing and also make the Jews happy.  He is an example of all that we do not like about politics.  It is not about doing the right thing, but about pleasing the most people—even attempting to please everybody.  Trying to please the crowds is never a noble choice for a leader.

Secondly, we also learn that the people had an opportunity to take a stand for what was right and just.  "Pilate" gave the crowds an opportunity to release Jesus.  The crowd instead choose "Barabbas" over Jesus.  "So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, 'Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?'" (Matthew 27:17)  They chose "Barabbas."  We learn, though, that the crowd was influenced by the religious leaders.  "But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed." (Matthew 27:20)  "But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead." (Mark 15:11)  Nevertheless, "Pilate," the religious leaders, and the Jewish crowds all were guilty of the horrible murder of the innocent Lamb of God.

7. The greatest injustice (19:1-16)

a. The unjust beating (19:1-3)
"Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' And they struck him in the face."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that these Roman "soldiers" had such animosity toward Jesus?

 

 

"Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' And they struck him in the face."  Nothing in the history of man shows the ugliness that is inside of us more clearly than these verses.  "Pilate" reveals what a sniveling coward he was.  He chose to have a man beaten that he knew was innocent, in an attempt to please a mob.  He could have put his whole life, job, and success on the line for an innocent man by releasing Jesus.  It is what he should have done!  Instead, he became one of history's most disrespected men and has an innocent man beaten.  Have we ever been like "Pilate" and did what was popular rather than doing what we knew was right?

Next, there were the Roman "soldiers."  They perversely enjoyed beating, hurting, and mocking an innocent man.  How could anyone enjoy bringing pain to another?  We think of the school bullies beating up on a weak defenseless child.  We think of gangs beating someone into their gang.  We think of a husband beating his children or his wife.  We think of a bully boss terrorizing an employee.  We think of a dictator like Saddam Hussein and his sons terrorizing a country.  We think of a group of people together slandering someone.  Have we ever been like these "soldiers"

"The scourge consists of a handle to which several leather thongs we affixed.  They are weighed on the ends with jagged pieces of bone or metal.  This would help tear the flesh and make the blow more effective.  The punishment by scourging was so severe that the victim usually fainted and not rarely died." "Taken from The Six Trials of Christ by John Lawrence.  Copyright 1977 by Know Your Bible Hour." 

After they had "flogged" Him, they mocked Him by putting a "crown of thorns" on His head.  The "thorns" were long and very sharp.  Then, they put a "purple robe" on Him.  "They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. 'Hail, king of the Jews!' they said.  They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again." (Matthew 27:29b,30)  The "staff" was like "what we know as bamboo." "Taken from The Six Trials of Christ by John Lawrence.  Copyright 1977 by Know Your Bible Hour." 

b. Pilate's unjust role (19:4-7)
"Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, 'Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.' When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, 'Here is the man!' As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, 'Crucify! Crucify!' But Pilate answered, 'You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.' The Jews insisted, 'We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.'"

Thought Question:  Why did these people not see the beaten Jesus and say enough has already been done to Him?

 

 

"Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, 'Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.' When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, 'Here is the man!'"  "Pilate" brings out the beaten, bloody, and humiliated Jesus.  It appears that "Pilate" was hoping that the Jews would be satisfied with how much Jesus had been tortured and humiliated.  "Pilate" once more states that Jesus was innocent.  "Pilate" was saying, "This innocent Jesus has been tortured, humiliated, and disgraced; is that not enough for you 'Jews'?  Look at this poor fellow, hasn't He suffered enough?"

Instead, all that Jesus and "Pilate" saw was cold-hearted hatred.  "Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me." (Psalm 22:13)  Like a pack of lions killing a fallen animal, there was only a lust for more blood in the hearts of the mob that watched Jesus on that day.  There were a few, though, that helplessly looked on with compassion toward Jesus.

"As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, 'Crucify! Crucify!'"  Years ago, I witnessed an anti-Viet Nam war mob.  The leaders of that mob used the same mob psychology that was used by "the chief priests."  The protest leaders first riled up the crowd by shouting what they were all against, then they got them to yell a chant together over and over again.  I cannot remember the exact words, but I do remember them rushing the school administration building and throwing a rock with a burning American flag wrapped around it through the glass doors of that building.  Here, the chant was "Crucify! Crucify!"  The screaming in the late 60s was against a whole government.  The screaming described here in John was against one man—one innocent man!

"But Pilate answered, 'You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.'" See Matthew 23:23-24; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:4, 13-15, 22 for the other Gospels' accounts of Pilate proclaiming Jesus innocent.

"The Jews insisted, 'We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.'"  "Pilate" wanted to let them go ahead and do what they wanted to do and leave him out of it.  But, "the Jews" felt that they were justified in having "Pilate" order the death of Jesus, for He had committed blasphemy by claiming "to be the Son of God."  Death was the penalty for blasphemy. See Leviticus 24:10-16  It was "Pilate's" responsibility, then, to execute this man who claimed "to be the Son of God."  For the Roman government alone could execute a man.  So, "Pilate" must crucify this one who claimed "to be the Son of God."  We should not be surprised at "Pilate's" superstitious response, since his wife had warned him about a dream that she had. See Matthew 27:19

c. Pilate's cowardice leads to the crucifixion (19:8-16)
"When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. 'Where do you come from?' he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 'Do you refuse to speak to me?' Pilate said. 'Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?' Jesus answered, 'You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.' From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, 'If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.' When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. 'Here is your king,' Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, 'Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!' 'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked. 'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that the Jewish leaders were more guilty of Christ's death than Pilate?

 

 

"When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace."  We learn here that "Pilate" had been fearful all along, and when he hears that Jesus has claimed that He is "the Son of God," he is "even more afraid."  He had heard stories of gods appearing as humans.  In Acts 14, the people of Lystra saw Paul and Barnabas heal a crippled man and concluded that they were gods.  "When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, 'The gods have come down to us in human form!' Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker." (Acts 14:11-12)  "Pilate" thought he was being asked to kill a god in human form.  It actually was even worse, for he was being asked to kill God in human form.

"'Where do you come from?' he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 'Do you refuse to speak to me?' Pilate said. 'Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?' Jesus answered, 'You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.  Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.'"  Why was Jesus silent when asked, "Where do you come from?"   We cannot be sure, but here are some likely answers:  (1) Jesus did not want to play on "Pilate's: superstitious fears, so He said nothing.  (2) "Pilate" was not genuinely seeking to know who Jesus was; and, so, since he was not a sincere seeker of God, Jesus "gave him no answer."  "Pilate" had already shown that he was not interested in seeking truth. See 18:37-38  "Pilate's" only reason for asking the question was that he hoped Jesus was not a god, so that he would not need to be afraid.  The truth is that he needed to be "afraid," so Jesus said nothing.

Jesus fulfilled a prophecy about Himself when He was silent.  "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." (Isaiah 53:7) See Matthew 26:63, 27:14; Mark 14:60-61, 15:5; Luke 23:9 for other places where Jesus was silent.  See also I Peter 2:19-25

"'Do you refuse to speak to me?' Pilate said. 'Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?'"  "Pilate" is "afraid," but he tries to appear strong.  He was not really strong, though; because he feared the cries of the crowds, he was afraid to do what was right.  "Pilate" does establish his guilt.  For, as he says here, he did have the "power" to "free" Jesus.

We learn about the role of government in God's plans by Jesus answer.  "'You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above."  "Pilate" had been given his authority by God.  It was his responsibility to exercise that authority in a righteous, loving, and just way. See Romans 13:1-7

God has put authorities over us; because without authorities over us, there will be chaos and anarchy.  When communism fell in the Soviet Union, there was not an immediate utopia.  Instead, there was chaos and many concluded that they had been better off under communism.  Even bad authority is better than no authority or weak authority.  God has established authority; but once more, those in authority are responsible for how they administer that authority.  "Pilate" did not realize that the One standing before him had given him the authority that he had.  Also, he could only do what God allowed him to do.  He was about to crucify the Son of God only because the Father and the Son were going to allow it to happen.  "One day God would call him to account for the way he had used his privileges and responsibilities." "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books." 

Throughout the Bible, God at times prevents evil from happening to those He loves.  He put a hedge around Job (see Job 1:10) and He protected Jesus until His time had come.  Nothing can happen to us unless God allows it.

"'Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.'"  There are many reasons why "the Jews" were more responsible for murdering the Son of God that Pilate was.  They had been given the Bible with all the descriptions of God and His ways, with all the predictions of the Messiah, and with the stories about God's gracious treatment of them throughout the years.  Yet, they chose evil over good, hate over love, and hatred of the Son of God rather than love for Him.  Also, "Pilate" was seeking a way to have the innocent Jesus released.  The religious leaders were passionately screaming to have Him crucified.

We learn here that there are degrees of sinning.  "Pilate" thought he was Jesus' judge, but Jesus was and will be "Pilate's" judge.  His judge tells him that "the Jews" are "guilty of a greater sin" than him.

"From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, 'If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.''  Here, we see that "Pilate" was not really in charge; the crowds were.  The crowds appear to have known that he was afraid of "Caesar" and of them.  Middle managers are often in this situation.  They know that if they rile up those under them, it could got back to their boss or bosses.  So, "Pilate," out of fear of "Caesar," was controlled by the mobs.  "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." (Proverbs 29:25)  Pilate was caught in that "snare." 

"From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free,"  The verb tense indicates that "Pilate" kept on seeking to free Jesus.  We are not told what he attempted to do to get Jesus' release, but only that he was looking for some way to free Jesus.  His sin was cowardice; he did not want to kill Jesus.  "The Jews" forced him into a position where he either feared doing wrong more or feared trouble from Caesar more.  That actually was a choice he could have made.  "The Jews" knew what type of man "Pilate" was, and they knew what kind of pressure from them would get him to crucify Jesus.  In the end, he made the decision that they pressured him into making.  It was not a completely voluntary choice, but it was a decision nevertheless.

The irony is that "the Jews" who were screaming that "Pilate" was "no friend of Caesar's" were also no friend of Caesar's.  Also, Jesus never uttered a word against "Caesar." 

"When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. 'Here is your king,'"  "Pilate" is ready to give his judgment on Jesus.  As our judges come into the courtroom and sit down at the judge's bench, so "Pilate" sits down in the official "judge's seat." 

"the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha)."  "The Chaldean [Aramaic] name Gabbatha, an elevation, was apparently given because of the shape." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  In other words, it was a raised part of the pavement.

"It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week,"  Since the Synoptic Gospels describe Jesus as eating the Passover meal on the previous night—Thursday night, John here is not describing the night before that meal.  It is the "Friday of passover week, the preparation day before the Sabbath of passover week (or feast). See also verses 31, 42; Mark 15:42; Matthew 27:62; Luke 23:54; for this same use of paraskeue ["Passover"] for Friday." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  Mark's Gospel clearly states that the "Preparation of the Passover Week" was the day before the Sabbath of "Passover Week."  "It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached," (Mark 15:42) 

"about the sixth hour."  This would be 12 noon in our time.  "Mark 15:25 says Jesus was crucified at the 'the third hour.'  It is possible that Mark's gospel contains a copyist error, for the Greek numerals for three and six could be confused.  Or it may be that John was using Roman time, in which case the appearance before Pilate would have been a 6:00 A.M. and the crucifixion at 9:00 A.M. (the third hour according to Jewish reckoning; see Mk 15:33).  For other time references see Mt. 27:45-46; Mk 15:33-34; Luke 23:44." "NIV Study Bible note."

"'Here is your king,' Pilate said to the Jews."  It is "Pilate's" attempt to belittle "the Jews."  And it is also one more attempt to free Jesus.  He was saying: "Are you going to crucify your own king?"  We see their immediate answer in the next verses.

"But they shouted, 'Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!' 'Shall I crucify your king?' Pilate asked. 'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified."  In the future, the world will choose to be under a future Roman ruler—the Antichrist.  Here, "the Jews" choose to be under Caesar rather than be under their Messiah and Promised King.  In fact, they choose to murder the very Messiah that will one day rule on this earth.  They also murdered the One who does rule in the hearts of those who receive Him as their King. See II Peter 1:10-11

8. The Crucifixion (19:17-27)

a. The Crucifixion with two others (19:17-18)
"Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle."

"Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)."  Jesus knew that His life would one day lead Him to the cross.  He knew it not only during His earthly life, but He had known it for eternity. "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)  "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (Revelation 13:8) See also I Peter 1:10-11

"Carrying his own cross,"  We know that the weight of the that "cross" was more than He could bear and that a man from Cyrene, named Simon "was forced" to carry the "cross." "As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross." (Matthew 27:32)  For a more detailed account of what happened on the way to the "cross," see Luke 23:26-32 and also see Mark 15:21.

"he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)."  "You can visit the hill of Golgotha today.  It stands a few hundred yards outside the Damascus gate of Jerusalem, a low mound with two large excavations on its side which give the appearance of eye sockets.  It is fascinating to recall that this hill is the exact spot where Abraham was called to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."    "The place to which they led Jesus is called The Place of the Skull.  The Skull has always symbolized death.  I don't think it is an accident that God chooses The Place of the Skull as the setting for His decisive battle with Death." "Stedman." 

"Golgotha" means "skull" in Aramaic.  "The Latin, Calvaria (from which we derive our Calvary) also means skull." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

Not all scholars agree with Stedman on the location of Jesus' crucifixion.  Some believe it occurred at the site of the Church of the Holy Selpulchre "inside the walls of the city." "Hendriksen"  But the site called "Gordon's Calvary" that Stedman describes may be correct.

"Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle."  In Isaiah 53, it says that the future Messiah would be numbered with the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:12)  As Jesus hung between two thieves, that prediction was fulfilled.  Matthew says that those on his right and left were "two robbers." (Matthew 27:38) See Luke 23:39-43 for the interaction between Jesus and these two men on the cross.  See Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 where both of these two robbers "heaped insults on him." (Mark 15:32)  See also Luke 23:39-43 where one of the thieves repented.

b. The sign on the cross (19:19-22)
"Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, 'Do not write “The King of the Jews,” but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.' Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you think Pilate put up the sign declaring Jesus "king of the Jews"?

 

 

"Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek."  A sign was typically put above the head of the criminal who was being crucified, stating what he was dying for.  "Pilate" mocked "the Jews" by stating that Jesus was dying for claiming that he was their king.  Also, this sign mocked the Jews for killing their own king.  The truth is that is exactly who He was and who He is.  The Old Testament predicted that a King would come to Israel from the line of David who would reign over Israel forever.  "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.”'" (Psalm 89:3-4)  "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)  "But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'" (Luke 1:30-33) See also Acts 2:29-30, 13:22-23; Revelation 5:5, 22:16

"and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek."  "Aramaic.  One of the languages of the Jewish people at the time (along with Hebrew)." "NIV Study Bible note."  "Latin" was the official language of the Roman Empire.  "Greek" was an international language that had been spread throughout the world by Alexander the Great. 

The New Testament Transline note explains why some translations have "Hebrew" instead of "Aramaic."  "That, the language of the Hebrews at the time, which modern linguists call Aramaic." "Taken from Transline by Make Magill.  Copyright 2002 by Zondervan Publishing."

These three languages assured that everyone who could read, no matter what his background, was able to read that Jesus was dying because He was "King of the Jews."  For all time, it declares that Jesus died as the promised "King of the Jews." "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:10-12)

"The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, 'Do not write “The King of the Jews,” but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.' Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written.'"  The religious leaders were incensed at the idea that the sign stated that they were killing their leader.

"Pilate's" sign, though, was accurate.  They were guilty; not the innocent Jesus.  We are guilty, not Jesus.  The Innocent One died for all of us who are guilty.  He died in our place.  "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:4-6)

"It is one of the paradoxical things in life that we can be stubborn about things which do not matter and weak about things of supreme importance.  If Pilate had only withstood the blackmailing tactics of the Jews and had refused to be coerced into giving them their will with Jesus, he might have gone down in history as one of its great, strong men.  But because he yielded on the important thing and stood firm on the unimportant, his name is a name of shame." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

c. The gambling before the cross (19:23-24)
"When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 'Let’s not tear it,' they said to one another. 'Let’s decide by lot who will get it.'  This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, 'They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.' So this is what the soldiers did."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about what we humans are like without God changing us?

 

 

"When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 'Let’s not tear it,' they said to one another. 'Let’s decide by lot who will get it.'"  We see here how cold-hearted man can get.  Above them, an innocent man is dying the most horrible and shameful death the ancient world could devise; below, men are thinking about what they could get out of Him.

The same type of thing can happen when a relative is dying.  His family can be coldly thinking about dividing the inheritance rather than about the person dying.  It can also can happen when people go on with their life without thinking about why Jesus was hanging on that cross.  It can also happen to us when we sing our Christian songs about the cross and think little of what they mean.  It can also happen when we take the Lord's Supper without deeply remembering what it means.  We should all seek to not be like these soldiers.  We should look away from only thinking of ourselves and look up to the cross and at the One who was there suffering for us. 

Barclay describes the clothes that Jesus wore as follows;  "Every Jew wore five articles of apparel—his shoes, his turban, his girdle, his tunic, and his outer robe.  There were four soldiers and there were five articles.  They diced for them, each had his pick and the inner tunic was left.  it was seamless, woven all in one piece." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

"This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, 'They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.'"  John says that this verse in Psalm 22—Psalm 22:18—is a prediction of what happened to Jesus on the cross.  Psalm 22, then, is a Messianic Psalm—a Psalm predicting the Messiah and what would take place in His life.  Much of the Psalm predicted what it would be like for Jesus while He was on the cross—from His perspective.  In fact, it is the only place where the agony He felt when he was on the cross is described, and it was described 1000 years before Jesus was born.

There was also a Roman centurion who was observing the crucifixion.  We read of his faith in Mark 15:39:  "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!'" See also Matthew 27:54 and Luke 23:47

d. Jesus commits His mother to John. (19:25-27)
"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."

Thought Question:  What makes what Jesus here did an incredible act of love?

 

 

"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene."  Jesus' "mother's sister" was the mother of John the author of this Gospel and the mother of James the apostle.  This makes John the apostle Jesus' cousin.  "In John she is not named, but a study of the parallel passages (Mark 15:40 Matthew 27:56) makes it quite clear that she was Salome, the mother of James and John." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  It was she that Jesus rebuked in Matthew 20. See Matthew 20:20-28  Nevertheless, this woman was still there for Him at the cross.

We know nothing of "Mary the wife of Clopas." See also Matthew 27:56,61, 28:1; Mark 15:40,47, 16:1; Luke 24:10

"Mary Magdalene" was the woman that Jesus cast seven spirits out of. See Luke 8:1-3  Jesus appears to her after His resurrection. See John 20:1-3, 10-18; Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12

We are told in Matthew 27:55 that "many women were there watching from a distance."  John, here, only mentions four of them by name.

"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."  Jesus was hanging from a wooden cross with His hands and feet pierced by nails.  The hands and feet contain many tender nerves.  He was beaten and bloody.  He was completely exhausted.  And yet, He was thinking of others more than He was thinking of Himself.  He was concerned about the future care of His mother.  This is the type of God that we serve.

Tradition teaches us that John was referring to himself when he writes "the disciple whom" Jesus "loved." 

Jesus was the eldest of Mary's sons.  The other brothers did not yet believe in Him. See John 7:3-5  So, Jesus entrusts His mother to John.  John may be the only disciple who did not die a martyr's death.  John's brother James died a martyr's death shortly after the church began. See Acts 12:2

Mary was with the early church as they waited in prayer for God's Spirit to strengthen them.  "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." (Acts 1:14)

When Jesus was a baby, a man named Simeon predicted the pain Mary was feeling when her son Jesus hung before her on that cross.  "Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.'" (Luke 2:34-35)

9. The death of Jesus (19:28-37)

a. Jesus' last words on the cross (19:28-30)
"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."

Thought Question:  What significance to you are the words, "It is finished"?

 

 

"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips."  David predicted Jesus' thirst while He was on the cross in Psalm 22:14-15:  "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death."  It was not a mystical phantom being who died on the that cross, but a man with a body just like ours.  Jesus had the same physical needs that we have.  We see here that one of those needs was a thirst for liquid.  He had other human needs also:  "After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." (Matthew 4:2)  "Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'" (Mark 4:38)  "Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour." (John 4:6)

The Gnostics taught that Jesus was spirit and not flesh.  Flesh was evil, they taught; therefore Jesus could not have been flesh and blood.  John combated this view by recording Jesus' thirst.

"so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.'"  Jesus' thirst being relieved with vinegar fulfills David's prophesy in Psalm 69:21:  "They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst." (Psalm 69:21)  See also Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36  This was "not vinegar drugged with myrrh (Mark 15:23) and gall (Matthew 27:34) which Jesus had refused just before the crucifixion." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

"When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."  In Matthew, we are told that these words were "cried out."  "He did not say, 'It is finished,' in weary defeat; he said it as one who shouts for joy because the victory is won." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  "And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit." (Matthew 27:50)

Also, Matthew tells us that there were dramatic events that occurred immediately after He "cried out."  "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely he was the Son of God!'" (Matthew 27:51-54)  Luke records the following last words of Jesus.  "Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last." (Luke 23:46)

"'It is finished.'" is one word: tetelestai.  In the marketplace of that time, in meant "paid in full."  Jesus "paid in full" our debt to God's justice.  What is that debt?  It is described in Romans 2:5: "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." (Romans 2:5)  Because Jesus paid that debt in full, we do not need to pay it.  There is no double jeopardy with God—Jesus and we do not need to pay for our sins.  He paid it in full.  God's righteousness was satisfied by Him.

"With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)  Jesus could have saved Himself at any time.  The Jewish leaders were not in charge; Pontius Pilate was not in charge; and the Roman soldiers were not in charge.  Jesus' life was not taken from Him.  He chose to give His life for us.  He voluntarily laid "down His life for his sheep"—He laid down His life for us. See Mark 10:45; Ephesians 5:2

Why did Jesus need to die?  If He did not die, we would need to experience the just results of all of our sin.  The book of Hebrews explains how the death of Jesus fulfills all of the symbolism of the sacrifices, the tabernacle, the temple, and the Passover Lamb in the Old Testament.  "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:11-12)  "For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment," (Hebrews 9:24-27)  Jesus' blood satisfied God's justice.  Our sins have been paid in full, and now we may boldly approach God's throne of grace.  "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)

b. Proof of His death (19:31-37)
"Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 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. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: 'Not one of his bones will be broken,' and, as another scripture says, 'They will look on the one they have pierced.'"

Thought Question #1:  Why did the Roman "soldiers" break "the legs" of those "on the crosses"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why, do you believe, there was "a sudden flow of blood and water" that came from Jesus?

 

 

"Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down."  "In one thing the Jews were more merciful than the Romans.  When the Romans carried out crucifixion under their own customs, the victim was simply left to die on the cross.  He might hang for days in the heat of the midday sun and the cold of the night, tortured by thirst and also tortured by the gnats and the flies crawling in weals of his torn back . . . Nor did the Romans bury the bodies of crucified criminals.  They simply took them down and let the vultures and crows and dogs feed upon them." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

Where the Jews had not been scrupulous in giving Jesus a fair trial, they were scrupulous about the religious formalities associated with His death.  Deuteronomy taught that someone killed on a tree must be buried.  "If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance." (Deuteronomy 21:22-23) Numbers 19 describes the ceremonial uncleanness that comes as result of coming in contact with a dead body.

"The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other."  "When his legs were broken, the crucified man could no longer press down with his feet in order to hoist himself upward and thus relieve the pressure on diaphragm, and he would die quickly by suffocation." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  "The common view today seems to be that the breaking of the legs hastened death by asphyxiation.  The weight of the body fixed the thoracic cage so that the lungs could not expel the air which was breathed in, but breathing by diaphragmatic action could continue for a long time so long as the legs, fastened on the cross, provided a point of leverage.  When the bones were broken, this leverage was no longer available and total asphyxia followed rapidly." "Taken from The Gospels and Epistles of John by F. F. Bruce.  Copyright 1983 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Company."

The two thieves died quickly, after experiencing the excruciating pain from the broken leg bones.  One of those thieves, though, found himself immediately in Paradise. See Luke 23:39-43

F. F. Bruce in his commentary on John tells of a skeleton that has been found that appears to have been crucified: "one of his legs had sustained a clear fracture from a single blow which also cracked the other." "Bruce."

"But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 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. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: 'Not one of his bones will be broken,' and, as another scripture says, 'They will look on the one they have pierced.'" 

There are a number of important points that John records for us in these verses.  First of all, Jesus was dead.  He did not swoon and then resuscitate in the grave.  There are a number of proofs given here to determine that He was dead:  1) The soldiers did not need to "break his legs" because they "found that he was already dead."  Notice, it says "soldiers."  The group of "soldiers" determined together that He was "dead."  (2) Then, when one of them "pierced" Him "with a spear," there was "a sudden flow of blood and water."  Since Gnostics taught that Jesus could not have been holy and also have had flesh which they believed was always unholy, John makes it clear that Jesus had a body with flesh and "blood."  And He was also holy. 

There is not agreement among medical authorities as to the cause of the "flow of blood and water."  Some have said that it was "water" from the pericardial sac around the heart and "blood" from the heart.  Although we cannot be sure of the reason for the "blood and water," we can be sure that it was proof of the fact that Jesus was already "dead."  That is why John adds the next words.

"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 witnessed the "blood and water" that came from Jesus' side.  He wants it to be clear that he saw it with his own eyes, and his readers (which includes us) can fully trust what he has told us when he said that there was "water and blood."  He wants us to be confident that Jesus was both a flesh and "blood" man and that he died on that cross. 

Some offer that these words may be an editorial comment added at a later time by someone else or that John may be referring to someone other than himself who witnessed this event.  But, since John was at the crucifixion, there is no reason why he did not witness the event himself.  Also, he refers to himself in this type of way throughout the Gospel. See 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:24  John 21:24 is a good example of John's pattern."This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true." (John 21:24)

A second important part of these verses is that what happened fulfilled biblical prophecy about Jesus.  "These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: 'Not one of his bones will be broken,' and, as another scripture says, 'They will look on the one they have pierced.'"  We will begin with "not one of his bones will be broken."  This prophecy comes from Psalm 34:20: "he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." (Psalm 34:20)  Also, the Jews were not to break a bone of the Passover Lamb. "'It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.'" (Exodus 12:46)  "They are to celebrate it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations." (Numbers 9:11-12) See also I Corinthians 5:7

What is interesting is that the soldiers were instructed to break His bones, but they chose not to do it when they saw "that he was already dead."  God's prediction took place, men made real choices, and God sovereignly fulfilled His purposes.

The next prophecy fulfilled was Zechariah 12:10:  "'And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.'"  John adds to these words in Revelation 1:7: "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen."  The One predicted to be "pierced" and who was "pierced" will return one day.  Zechariah predicts that Israel will then recognize that the One they crucified was their promised Messiah.  "On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives." (Zechariah 12:11-14)

10. The burial of Jesus (19:38-42)
"Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there."

Thought Question:  Was what "Nicodemus" and "Joseph of Arimathea" did a courageous act?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away."  Matthew tells us that "Joseph of Arimathea" was "a rich man." (Matthew 27:57)  Mark says he was "a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God." (Mark 15:43)  And Luke tells us that he was "a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action." (Luke 23:51)  Mark also tells us he "went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body." (Mark 15:43)

When a group strongly unites in an evil direction, there are often those who are not in agreement with that direction, but realize that the others are not receptive to their concerns.  So, secretly, they are in opposition to the group's decision.  Here, "Joseph of Arimathea" could not do anything that would have stopped the others from killing Jesus, but he could honor the body of Jesus.

"The Arimathea from which he came was probably the ancient Ramathiam-zophim, situated a little way over twenty miles north-west of Jerusalem, or fifteen miles straight east of Joppa." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

"Joseph of Arimathea" could have taken a bold stance against the crucifixion.  Any of us can take a bold stance when we believe a united leadership is going in an evil direction.  It is true, though, that in most cases, when someone takes this type of stand, there are usually some type of consequences.  Stephen was stoned to death. See Acts 7:54-60  Paul was imprisoned. See Acts 21:27-32  Peter and John were imprisoned. See Acts 5:17-18  "Joseph of Arimathea" was not bold in his opposition to the death of Jesus, but he was bold after His death.  We do not know if there were any consequences for his boldness in siding with Jesus at this time.

"He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs."  We were introduced to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21 and 7:50-52.  Like "Joseph of Arimathea," he was part of the "ruling council" (3:1) of Israel.  He also was a follower of Jesus, but he was a follower of Jesus who feared the Jews.  "He came to Jesus at night." (3:2)  He did take a stance for Jesus at one point.  "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.'" (John 7:50-52)

"Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds" so that Jesus would be buried in an honorable way.  Certainly, it was a costly sacrifice made out of respect for Jesus.

These men did not openly follow Jesus during His life, but the death of this innocent man drew them out of the shadows and they publicly stood with Him after His death.

Wiersbe observes that these two men touched the dead body of Jesus and therefore were unclean for the remaining part of the Passover celebration.  They were clean, though, before God—for they showed here their trust in Jesus Christ's death for them.  The rest of the religious leaders were ceremonially clean, but they were unclean before God because they had just participated in the murder of His Son.

Tenney describes the burial process that "Joseph of Arimathea" and "Nicodemus" followed.  "The Jews did not embalm as the Egyptians did, by removing the soft organs of the body, and by drying muscular tissues with preservatives.  The corpse was washed (Acts 9:37) and swathed in bandage-like wrappings from arm-pits to feet, in the folds of which spices were placed (Matt. 27:59, Luke 23:53), and a cloth was wound around the head." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

There is a need for us to focus on the effect that the fear of man has upon us.  Do we ever hide our belief in God when we know it will not be received well?  Jesus was clear that if we are ashamed of Him before men, He will be ashamed of us.  "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32-33)  I personally was greatly helped by this as a young Christian.  I went to the Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters that was at that time near San Bernardino, California.  The speaker for the week was Richard Wurmbrand who had been imprisoned for 13 years as a result of taking a public stand for Jesus in Communist Rumania.  I remember that I committed myself at the end of that week not to allow the slight ostracizing in our society that might come from taking a public stance for Jesus to stop me from proclaiming my faith in Jesus.  As far as I can recall, I have kept the commitment that I made that day.  May we all not be secret Christians, but may we openly confess our faith in Jesus to others.  "Joseph of Arimathea" and "Nicodemus" were open about their love for Jesus in the end, as they lovingly prepared His body for burial.

"At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there." 

It appears that "Joseph of Arimathea" and "Nicodemus" knew that Jesus would die.  For, they had already prepared ahead of time for His burial: they went immediately to "Pilate," they already had a burial place, and they had the large amount of spices available for his burial.  Luke tells us that "the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it." (Luke 23:55) See also Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47

The "tomb" was in the place where "Jesus was crucified."  Though the "tomb" was near the place where "Jesus was crucified," there is no certainty where this "tomb" was located.

Jesus' burial in a rich man's tomb was predicted in Isaiah 53.  "He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth." (Isaiah 53:9)

JESUS' POST-RESURRECTION MINISTRY (20-21)

1. The empty tomb (20:1-9)

a. Mary Magdalene's fear when she saw the empty tomb (20:1-2)
"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that Mary was so surprised at the empty tomb when Jesus had predicted that He would resurrect from the dead in three days?

 

 

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance."  As a child, I heard Bible stories in Sunday school.  I heard them, but I did not really hear them; for I did not really believe that they had happened.  They happened in the religious world of the church, but they did not happen in the real world that I lived in the rest of the week.  Jesus predicted that He was going to rise from the dead.  His followers heard His words, but they did not really believe that He was going to rise from the dead.  People in their world did not do this.  People died, and then you never saw them again.  Jesus died and His followers expected to never see Him again. See Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22, 18:31-33, 24:6-7 for times that Jesus predicted His resurrection.  But, even Jesus' enemies knew that Jesus had predicted that He would rise from the dead.  "'Sir,' they said, 'we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise again.”'" (Matthew 27:63)

"while it was still dark,"  It was more than just physically "dark" for "Mary Magdalene," she was also "dark" with her sadness as she trudged unhappily toward Jesus' tomb.  She and the others had put their hope in Him, and now the One they put their hope in was only a lifeless body in a cold and stony "tomb."

The Gospel of Mark says that it was "just after sunrise" when "they were on their way to the tomb." (Mark 16:2)  It appears that "Mary Magdalene"  and the other women mentioned in Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; and Luke 24:10 began when it was dark, but the sun rose on the way to "the tomb."

"Mary Magdalene"  Many believe that "Mary Magdalene" was a prostitute, but the Bible never says that.  All we know about her is that Jesus cast "seven demons" out of her. (Luke 8:2) We are not told that she was the sinful woman of Luke 7. See Luke 7:36-39

"and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance."  A book by a man who at one time was a skeptic is titled, Who Moved the Stone?  Certainly, "Mary Magdalene" and the other women must have immediately asked the question that is the title of this book.  They, though, did not consider the possibility that it was God who had moved that "stone." 

One person could not have moved the very large "stone" that covered the entrance to Jesus' tomb.  "The rock hewn tombs in Palestine were usually closed by a circular stone, weighing several tons, and set in a slanting groove so that when the stone was released, it would by its own weight, roll into place over the door.  Very little strength would be required to close the door, but the united effort of several men would be necessary to open it.  Since the stone was found rolled away, it must have been moved by some powerful force and for a definite purpose." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  It was a large enough "stone" that the women knew that they could not roll it away themselves: "and they asked each other, 'Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?' But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away." (Mark 16:3-4)

The "stone" did not need to be rolled away for Jesus to resurrect and appear to the people.  He could have gone right through the rock while it was still covering the opening of the tomb; for, later on, He appeared to the disciples while they were in a locked room by going through the wall of the room.  "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'" (John 20:26)  But, the "stone" did need to be "removed" so that there would be eyewitness evidence that "the tomb" was empty.

"So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'"  Again, "Mary Magdalene" shows that she had not even considered the possibility that Jesus had risen from the dead.  It appears that she rushed off and left the other women behind.  John, here, shows that there were other women, for she says, "we don’t know where they have put him!"  It also appears that while "Mary Magdalene" was gone, there were angelic appearances to the other women.  "The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.' So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.' While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened." (Matthew 28:5-11)  Luke says that  "two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them." (Luke 24:4)  Mark, like Matthew, speaks of one angel. See Mark 16:5-8  We have been given different events that all took place that resurrection morning.  They only appear to contradict each other because we do not have all the events described in one place. Instead, we have different events that took place that morning given to us in the different Gospels.  If we could observe everything that took place that morning, we would see that all the events that are recorded in the Gospels took place just as they are recorded.  Then, we would be able to place them together in their chronological order.  Morris observes that the differences in the accounts actually adds credibility to their accuracy.  "The differences between the Gospels amount to no more than a demonstration that here we have the spontaneous evidences of witnesses, not the stereotyped repetition of an official story." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  When police separate suspects in a crime and each tells exactly the same story, they usually conclude that they have put together an agreed-upon story.  What we have here is what would happen if you asked a group of people who had seen an accident from different locations to describe what they saw.  They could give accurate descriptions of what happened that, at first, may seem to contradict each other.  Those taking the testimonies would, then, need to piece together the accounts to figure out all that happened.

"So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved,"  Peter and John—"the one Jesus loved"—were the accepted leaders of the disciples.  Peter's denials had not caused him to fall from leadership among the disciples.

"'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'"  "Mary Magdalene" still saw Jesus as her "Lord."

b. Peter and John rush to see the empty tomb. (20:3-9) 
"So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)"

Thought Question:  From the evidence in the empty tomb, what do you believe happened inside that tomb when Jesus rose from the dead?

 

 

"So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first."  "Peter" and John had been together many times.  They had fished together. See Luke 5:1-11  They were two of the three that were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. See Matthew 17:1-13  They were two of the three that were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. See Matthew 26:36-46  Now, they are running together toward the empty "tomb." 

"the other disciple outran Peter"  Since John outlived the other disciples, he may have been younger than Peter, or he may just have been a faster runner.

"He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen."  John was faster but more cautious than "Peter."  He got to the empty "tomb first," but he was hesitant to go inside of it.  "Peter," the less hesitant one, burst into the tomb.

"Peter" "saw the strips of linen"  The word for "saw" is "theorei, vivid term . . . , but of careful notice, theoreo, not a mere glance blepo such as John gave in verse 5." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press." 

What they saw that morning was that everything was in order.  They did not see a messy cave, with wrappings and remnants of the spices all over the place.  Instead, the cloth that had been around Jesus' head was carefully rolled up and was "separate from the linen."

What would we have seen if we had been there at the moment of Jesus' resurrection?  We cannot be sure, but we would not have seen Jesus ripping and tearing away the wrappings that were about Him.  What took place was clearly a miraculous resurrection that left the tomb not in disarray, but in complete order.  The body of Jesus was inside of the burial wrappings and, then, the body was not inside of the burial wrappings.  Since the head cloth was "separate from the linen" that was around Jesus' body, He may have passed through the "linen" on His body and then removed the turban on His head and set it aside by itself.

It is clear, therefore, that what "Peter" and John saw that morning was not the kind of evidence one would find if grave robbers had stolen the body—they would have taken away the body while it was still inside the burial "linen."  Instead, what they saw was evidence that something truly remarkable had happened.

"Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)"  When John "went inside," he saw that Jesus had risen from the dead.  He still, though, had not put all the pieces together and realized that the Bible predicted Jesus' resurrection.  The Scripture that John is referring to could be Psalm 16:9-11:  "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." See also Acts 2:25-31, 13:35  John also could be referring to Isaiah 53:10-11:  "Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." See also Matthew 12:40

"When John wrote this account, he used three different Greek words for seeing.  In verse 5, the verb simply means 'to glance in, to look in.'  In verse 6, the word means 'to look carefully, to observe.'  The word 'saw' in verse 8 means 'to perceive with intelligent comprehension.'  Their resurrection faith was now dawning." "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."

2. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (20:10-18)

a. Angels appear to Mary Magdalene (20:10-13)
"Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don’t know where they have put him.'"

Thought Question:  "Mary" still did not understand that Jesus had risen from the dead as the Bible predicted and as Jesus had predicted.  Do we ever, like "Mary" and "the disciples," miss something that the Bible clearly teaches?  Please explain your answer and give examples if you can.

 

 

"Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don’t know where they have put him.'"  "Mary" had gone to Peter and John.  Now, we see her back at "the tomb."  Why did she go back?  There is only one reason that makes sense.  She went back because of her love for Jesus.  She had been loved by Jesus and she had loved Him in return.  She was one of the last people at the cross and one of the first at "the tomb" after the Sabbath.  She had started out for "the tomb" when it was still dark.  The only place where she could feel close to Him was at "the tomb" where His body lay.

"As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb"  We see the depth of her love for Jesus.  She was crying.  We cry when we lose someone very close to us.  Jesus was very dear to "Mary."  Notice that she was weeping while she was alone.  Her tears were genuine and deeply felt.  They were not shed for people to see, but because of her deep love for Jesus.

But when she looked "into the tomb," it was not empty and it was not dark.  For in "the tomb" she "saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot."  Instead of seeing a dark and empty "tomb," a sign of utter defeat, she "saw two angels" in glistening "white" garments.  These "two angels" should have shown her that "the tomb" was not a place of defeat and dark despair, but a place of victory and glistening hope! See also Matthew 28:2-8; Mark 16:5-8; and Luke 24:1-8 for other accounts of the angels on that resurrection Sunday.

"They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don’t know where they have put him.'"  When she is asked by the angels" why she is crying, she does not seem to understand that they are "angels."  She was focused on the fact that her "Lord" had been "taken" "away" and on the fact that she didn't "know where they" had "put him."  "Implied in the question which the angels ask is a message: 'This is a time for joy, not for weeping.'" "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

b. Mary Magdalene sees the risen Jesus. (20:14-18)
"At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 'Woman,' he said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher). Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”' Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: 'I have seen the Lord!' And she told them that he had said these things to her."

Thought Question:  Why do you think that "Mary Magdalene" did not recognize Jesus?
 

 

 

"At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 'Woman,' he said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.'"  It is as if Jesus said, "I am here and I am not dead, why are crying?"  But she was so absorbed in the horrors of the previous day—the horrible beating, the bloody Jesus, and the horrible death—that there was no place in her mind for an alive and unbeaten Jesus.

So, she wanted to know if he had taken away the body.  How, she wondered, was she going to return Jesus' body to the tomb?  Her grief would enable her to find a way.  Her body may have been weak, but her love was strong.

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher)."  In a flash, "Mary" went from total despair to the height of joy.  One little word changed it all—"Mary."  Only One had spoken her name with such love—Jesus!  At that moment, "Mary's resurrection Sunday began.  In her mind, she suddenly realized: He's alive!  She cried out to Him in great joy, "Teacher!" or "Rabboni!"

There are for all of us a time or times when we need to hear what "Mary" heard that morning.  A time when we hear Jesus say our name in such a way that we know His individual love for us as a person.  Do we believe that Jesus loves us as he loved "Mary"?  The answer is simple.  Just as He loved "Mary" who loved Him, so He loves us today who love Him.

"Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.'"  Overcome with joy, "Mary" grabbed Jesus and was not going to let go of Him this time.  Jesus tells her to stop holding on to Him.  The Father's plan for Him was not for Him to stay on earth, but for Him to return to Him in heaven.  Jesus' earthly time was about to come to an end.  "Mary" would no longer know Him as her earthly "Teacher," but from that time on, she would know Him as her God and King.  John the apostle saw this difference when He saw Jesus in His glorified state on the island of Patmos:  "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)

In Matthew 28:9, Jesus does allow women to touch Him.  "Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him."  "Mary" needed to realize, though, that Jesus and she would no longer be in an earthly relationship.  "Mary" was holding on to Him.  The verb is in the tense that commands her to stop continuing to "hold" on to Him.  It was not about not touching Him, but about her not wanting to let go of Him.  The ESV captures the meaning of Jesus' words well: "Do not cling to me."  The Disciples Literal New Testament says, "Do not be clinging to me." See John 20:27 and Luke 24:39 where Jesus invites people to touch Him.

"'Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”'"  We learn here that Jesus no longer refers to His followers as His disciples, but He now describes them as His "brothers."  Jesus is about to return to His "Father," but He is also returning to their "Father."  Jesus is clearly not telling Mary to go and tell his actual "brothers," for we see in verse 18 that "Mary," in following Jesus' directions, "went to the disciples."

What does it mean for us to be "brothers" and sisters in God's family?  "Brothers belong to one and the same family.  They possess much in common.  They share in the same inheritance.  Thus, every true believer is a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17)." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  Boice shared that it was Adolf Harnack that coined the phrase, "the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  But, only those who have truly believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and have been truly born again of God's Spirit are God's children.  "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— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." (John 1:11-13)

Although God is our "Father," Jesus' relationship to the Father is unique.  "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 is eternally the Son of the "Father."  We have been adopted into God's family through Jesus.  Through Jesus, we have access to our "Father" and can say, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be you name." (Matthew 6:9) See also Romans 8:15

"'“I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”'"  If Jesus is God, why does He say, "my God"?  Here, we have the mystery of the Trinity.  In John 1, John uses these words to describe Jesus.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)  Jesus, "the Word" who "became flesh" (John 1:14) was both "with God" and "was God."  So, Jesus is God, but He can also refer to the "Father" as "my God." 

"Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: 'I have seen the Lord!' And she told them that he had said these things to her."  "Mary Magdalene" no longer holds in her mind the beaten body of Jesus put in a cold tomb; now, she has a completely different vision of Jesus—the risen and alive Jesus she saw in the garden.

We learn in Mark 16:10-11 that the disciples did not believe "Mary" or the other women who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead.  "She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it."  Thomas was not the only one who doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead. Some of the early manuscripts do not contain Mark 16:9-20

3. Jesus appears to the disciples in a closed room. (20:19-23)
See also Luke 24:36-49

a. Jesus gave His disciples His peace. (20:19-20)
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."

Thought Question:  How do you believe the emotions of the disciples changed during the time described in these verses—before He appeared to them, when He appeared to them, and after He appeared to them?

Before He appeared to them:

 

When He appeared to them:

 

After He appeared to them:
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'"  Jesus had been killed.  Why, then, were His disciples hiding in a room "with the doors locked for fear of the Jews"?  The Gospel of Matthew explains why.  "While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, 'You are to say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.' So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day." (Matthew 28:11-15)  They were now the grave robbers, as well as being the followers of the One who was crucified.  They were a very cowardly and frightened group at this point.

Then, suddenly, into this "locked" room, Jesus appears and changes everything.  They did not expect someone to suddenly appear in their midst.  In Jesus' new body, burial bandages, the huge stone at the tomb, and the locked doors of this room did not stop Him.

In Philippians 3, we are told that we also will be raised from the grave to have a body like Jesus' resurrection body.  "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21) See also
I Corinthians 15:42-44
  What a day that will be, when we join Jesus in what His resurrection has made possible for us.

"'Peace be with you!'"  He could have rightly said, "Shame be on you for running away in fear when I was crucified, for denying me, for not believing my promise that I would resurrect, and for being afraid of the Jews right now."  Jesus' disciples were at that time experiencing everything but "peace."  When everything is going wrong on our outside, it usually means confusion and chaos on our inside—again, the opposite of "peace."

What would Jesus say to us if He suddenly appeared to you or suddenly appeared to me?  Like those disciples, I know that I fail in so many ways.  I know that Jesus is aware of each of my faults, just as He was aware of each of His disciples' faults.  You may be feeling the same way.  If Jesus appeared in the room with each of us, what would He say?  I can easily see Him saying, "Peace be with you."  Matthew 11:28-30 explains why He said "Peace" to them, and why I believe He would say "Peace" to us.  "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." See also John 14:27, 16:33

"After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."  Jesus "showed them his hands and side."  That is the basis for our "peace."  The wounds in "his hands and side" cry out to us one word: love—His love for us!  That is the basis for our "peace."   "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)  He is the One who loves us so much that He went to the cross for us.  Even though we fail Him in so many ways, He desires that we have "peace."  Yes, I believe that if Jesus appeared to us right now, He would say, "Peace be with you."

"Peace" with God comes as a result of what Jesus did on the cross to remove the penalty for our sin and to make us right with Him.  "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Romans 5:1)  His wounds were evidence that Jesus had gained that "peace" for us.  "And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:20)

We can now have "peace" even in the face of death.  Jesus immediately shows them that He had conquered the worst the world could do.  Does that not explain the change that took place among the disciples?  They went from cowardly hiding in a locked room afraid of "the Jews" to the fearless apostles who stood up and defied "the Jews" when they were ordered to stop preaching Jesus to the people.  "Then someone came and said, 'Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.' At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 'We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,' he said. 'Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.' Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.' When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death." (Acts 5:25-33)  What changed Jesus' disciples from a great fear of "the Jews" to great boldness before them?  They had seen the resurrected Lord and they had seen the wounds in "his hands and side."
Luke 24 tells us that Jesus both showed them His wounds and invited them to touch them so that they would know that He was not a ghost.  "They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet." (Luke 24:37-40) 

"The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."  It is the joy that comes when the darkness of no hope is completely transformed into full hope.  Paul also had this type of transformation.  "For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." (II Corinthians 7:5-7)  God still is the God who transforms dark times into times of great joy.

b. The resurrected Jesus gave His disciples their life mission. (20:21)
"Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.'"

Previous to this, Jesus' disciples did not have a purpose.  They had been running into hiding, running out to the tomb, and running back into hiding.  Now, along with "peace," Jesus gives them a purpose.  He passed the relay race baton on to them.  "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."  These disciples are gone now.  Who is now holding the baton?  Who has the relay baton been passed on to now?  It has been passed on to us.  Listen to Jesus' commissioning words to His disciples.  "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)  "To the very end of the age"—the "end of the age" has not happened yet; so, who is carrying out Jesus' commission today?  The disciples are gone.  The baton of Jesus' purpose is in our hands right now.  Jesus has finished His part of the race.  He handed the baton to the disciples.  They finished their part of the race and handed the baton on to others.  Now, we have the baton.  May we do our part as well as those who carried the baton before us. See also John 17:18

c. The resurrected Jesus gave His disciples power. (20:22)
"And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"  How can we fulfill this purpose that God has given to us?  Jesus said, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves." (Matthew 10:16a)  How can we weak sheep do the job that He commissioned us to do?  We can only do it because He has not only given us His mission to do, but He has also given us His power to do it.  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)  They were only effective in accomplishing the purpose that He gave to them only when they were filled with the "Holy Spirit."  "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)  As Ray Stedman said, "Nothing from us, everything from Him."

How could the disciples have received the "Holy Spirit" here, when Jesus instructed them later to wait until they received the "Holy Spirit"?  Bible teachers struggle to answer this question.  My own conclusion is that Jesus' breathing on them here symbolized what would take place later.  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39)

Wayne Gruden gives this answer to the above question.  "When Jesus breathed on his disciples and said to them, 'receive the Holy Spirit' (John 20:22), it probably was an acted out prophecy of what would happen to them at Pentecost.  In this same context—in fact, in the verse immediately preceding—Jesus told them something that would not happen until Pentecost: 'As the Father sent me, even so I send you.' (John 20:21).  But even though he said this before he ascended into heaven, he did not really send them out to preach the gospel until the Day of Pentecost had come.  Therefore his words were looking forward to what would happen at Pentecost.  It is best to understand the words in the next sentence, 'Receive the Holy Spirit,' in the same way—he was speaking in advance of something that would happen at the Day of Pentecost.  On that day they would receive the new covenant fullness and power of the Holy Spirit, a much greater empowering than what they had experienced before." "Taken from Systematic Theology by Wayne Gruden.  Copyright 1994 by Zondervan. p. 769.)  I believe that Gruden is correct, for there is no reported change in the disciples at this time.  This would be the case if it was a prophecy of what was to come.

d. The resurrected Jesus gave His disciples a great privilege and a great authority. (20:23)
"'If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'"

All evangelism is based on these words of Jesus.  When we share the gospel message, we say that if you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your "sins" and receive Him as your Lord and Savior, your "sins" will be "forgiven" and you will receive eternal life.  What gives us the authority to say that.  These words of Jesus in this verse give us that authority.

John 3:16 is the gospel in one verse.  "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."  What is our authority for saying that if people do what we say, their "sins" will be "forgiven"?  The authority Jesus gave these disciples has been passed on to us.   (Matthew 16:18) See also Matthew 16:19  Roman Catholics believe that this verse authorizes them to decide which sins are forgiven and which sins are not forgiven at their confessionals.  But, Jesus is actually authorizing all Christians to share the gospel message and participate in people being "forgiven" as they repent and believe in Jesus' death for their sins.  What a privilege we have!

Luke 24:33-49 appears to be describing the same visit by Jesus to His disciples.  In Luke, we learn that there were more than just the Twelve present.  "They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together" (Luke 24:33)  So, all that is said here applies not just to the Twelve, but to all believers.

All of what is described in 20:19-23 took place on the "first day of the week." (20:19)  From this time on, as recorded in the book of Acts and in the New Testament, Christians met on the first day of the week rather than on the Sabbath. See Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Revelation 1:10; John 20:26

3. Jesus appears to Thomas. (20:24-29)
"Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.' A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"

Thought Question:  In what ways have you been like Thomas?

 

 

"Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.'"  From these verses, and from two other places in the New Testament where "Thomas" is described, we learn that he tended to be skeptical and pessimistic.  After Lazarus had died, Jesus told His "disciples" that He and they were going to where the dead body of Lazarus was lying.  They, then, would be going to a city near Jerusalem where opposition against Jesus was heating up.  They had previously tried to seize Jesus there.  "Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp." (John 10:39)  His "disciples" warned Him against going back.  "'But Rabbi,' they said, 'a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?'" (John 11:8)  We see "Thomas'" response in John 11:16: "Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'"

Later, Jesus said, "'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.'" (John 14:1-4)  "Thomas'" response is found in the next verse.  "Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'" (John 14:5)

Here, "Thomas" had not been present when Jesus had suddenly appeared to the "disciples" in a locked room.  What was "Thomas'" response?  "I will not believe unless I see concrete evidence"—until I see "the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side."  Many, through the years, have described themselves as being like "Thomas."  They see themselves as skeptics by nature.  They "will not believe" until they have thoroughly checked it out.  They are from Missouri, the "show me" state.  They want solid evidence before they will believe.  They see themselves as "doubting Thomases."

What was it like for the other "disciples" to have heard "Thomas'" response to them.  They were all excited about seeing Jesus.  In their enthusiasm, they tell "Thomas."  "Thomas'" gloomy skepticism must have somewhat dampened their enthusiasm.  He stubbornly refused to believe until he was given strong evidence.  The testimony of his closest compatriots was not enough for him.  Most of us have read an exciting book, gone to an exciting conference, or had an exciting idea and then shared it with a friend; only to have the friend not be excited at all about it.  That is what happened when the "disciples" shared their excitement about seeing the resurrected Jesus with Thomas so many years ago.

"'I will not believe it.'"  There is a double negative in "Thomas'" words, stating a strong refusal to believe.  He not only did not believe that they had seen Jesus, but he completely refused to believe anything they said they saw until he himself had seen Jesus and he himself had touched Him.

"A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'"  Jesus repeats again exactly what "Thomas" had missed the week before when He appeared to the "disciples" minus "Thomas."  He even repeated the same words. "'Peace be with you!'"

"'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.'"  Jesus condescends and submits himself to "Thomas'" requirements.  Today, we have those who refer to themselves as agnostics.  That means that they are those who say they do not have enough evidence to believe that there is a God.  Agnostic means "do not know or no knowledge."  The scientific world demands evidence.

A certain amount of skepticism is healthy.  The more thoroughly we have examined the historicity of the Bible and the accuracy of what is reported in it, the more secure we are in our faith when the Bible is challenged and our faith is challenged.  "Thomas," though, had sufficient evidence before Jesus appeared and showed him the wounds in his "hands" and "side"; as we will see from what will follow in the next verses.

"Stop doubting and believe."  Or, in other words, get rid of this habit of doubting and "believe."  Jesus commands "Thomas" to stop doubting.  "Thomas" did stop doubting. 

"Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!'"  "Thomas" makes an amazing jump here. He goes from doubting that Jesus had risen from the grave to calling Him "God."  It is the only place in the Gospel accounts where someone calls Jesus "God."  "Thomas" knew who was standing in front of Him.  He was standing in front of "God."  There were those who declared that Jesus is the Son of God (see John 1:34, 49, 11:27, 20:30-31); and He was called the Holy One of God (see John 6:69), but no one called Him God..

One of the Ten commandments says: "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)  Jesus said, when He was tempted by the devil that "it was written: "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." (Matthew 4:10)  Yet, "Thomas" calls Him "God," and Jesus does not prevent Him from calling Him "God" or prevent him from worshipping Him.  In Revelation 22:8-9, an angel prevents John the apostle from worshipping him.  "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)  An angel prevents John from worshipping him; yet, when "Thomas" worships Jesus as "God," Jesus accepts it.  Why?  Because it was appropriate for "Thomas" to worship Jesus as "God," for He is "God." See also 10:25-26; Acts 14:8-15

"'My Lord and my God!'"  This is how real faith in Jesus expresses itself.  "You are not only "God," you are "my God!"  "Thomas" personally embraces the truth that Jesus is "God" and that He is "Lord"—He is his "God" and He is his "Lord."  "Thomas" "who a little while ago was trying 'to lord it over the Lord' (laying down conditions for him to meet), has become submissive." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  He had shifted from making demands before he would believe, to a complete willingness to live under the commands of Jesus.  Tradition tells us that his obedience of His "Lord" led to a gospel ministry in India.

"Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"  Jesus did not commend "Thomas" for his belief in Him.  It would have been better if he had believed a week earlier when He heard the testimony of his fellow disciples.  Today, we have not had the opportunity to see the risen Lord and touch Him, yet we and ". . . a great multitude that no one could count . . " (Revelation 7:9) have believed on Him without seeing Him.

"'blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"  How are we who have believed without seeing "blessed?"  A faith that constantly needs reassurance is a weak faith.  On the other hand, a faith that believes without constant reassurance is a confident faith, a restful faith, and a peaceful faith.  "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)  Jesus rewards those who live by faith.  "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)  We as Christians are to live by faith and not by sight.  "We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)  "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy," (1 Peter 1:8) See also Matthew 8:5-10

E. V. Hill, the former Los Angeles pastor, said some time ago that one of the reasons we Christians get depressed is that our prayers are not answered immediately.  A type of faith that requires immediate answers from God is a weak faith.  A more "blessed" faith is when we pray for something and trust in God's answer before we see the answer.

During Jesus' time and the time of the apostles, there were many extraordinary miracles.  Were they more "blessed" than us?  We are more "blessed" if we can trust God without needing to have the miraculous constantly happening.

5. The theme of the book (20:30-31)
"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."

Thought Question:  Pick a miracle that is described in this Gospel and tell how it describes the life that Jesus gives us— "life in his name."

 

 

"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."  We see here that the purpose of the Gospel of John was not to give us a meticulous description of everything in Jesus' life.  If it was, the Gospel of John would have been a very large volume of books. Or even larger, see 21:25  Rather, John's purpose was to provide what is needed for us to believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God."  So that, our belief would result in us experiencing true "life in his name."  "We must read them [the Gospels], not primarily as historians seeking information, but as men and women seeking God." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

"may believe" "and that by believing"  In both cases, "believe" and "believing" are in the present tense, indicating that John's purpose is that we would live our lives continually "believing" in Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of God." 

"the Christ, the Son of God"  John's purpose is that all who read his Gospel would continually "believe" "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God."  We who read John's Gospel should conclude that Jesus was not just another ordinary man.  The most important question of all is, "Who is Jesus Christ?"  If He were just another man, then, knowledge about Him will be no more significant than learning about other famous men of history, such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, and others.  But, if He is God in the flesh and the Messiah promised to Israel who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead; then, knowing Him is also coming to know God.  That answer, describing His identity as God in the flesh, changes everything about our life!

"may have life in his name."  John records miracles that describe the life that Jesus came to give us.  (1) Turning water into wine describes the joy His life gives us.  (2 The healing of the official's son describes the healing from soul-sickness His life gives to us.  (3) The healing of the paralyzed man describes the new ability to be freed from the paralysis of the flesh His life gives to us.  (4) The feeding of the 5,000 describes the way His life fills the spiritual hunger inside of us.  (5) The stilling of the storm describes the peace in the midst of the storms of life that His life gives us.  (6) The healing of the blind man describes the spiritual sight His life gives to us.  (7) The resurrection of Lazarus and the resurrection of Jesus describes the resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life that His life gives to us.  (8) The miraculous catch of fish describes the success in ministry that His new life gives us. See the Introduction Information to see how the seven symbols and the six interactions in the Gospel of John also describe what is provided to us by this new life we have in Christ.

"life in his name."  In John 17, Jesus describes what eternal life is.  "For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:2-3)  This "life" comes to us through "believing" in "his name."  His name is "I am."  "I am the bread of life" (6:35); "I am the light of the world." (8:12); "I am the gate" (10:7); "I am the good shepherd" (10:11); "I am the resurrection and the life" (11:25); and "I am the true vine" (15:1).  As we believe that He is each of these "I am" statements, we have "life in his name." 

6. The miraculous catch of fish (21:1-14)

a. A picture of working in one's own strength (21:1-3)
"Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 'I’m going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We’ll go with you.' So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing."

Thought Question:  The disciples were instructed to go to Galilee where Jesus would meet them.  Peter and the others found it hard to just wait for Him.  When have you found it hard to just wait on God?

 

 

"Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 'I’m going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We’ll go with you.' So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." See also Luke 5:1-11

In Psalm 127, we find these words: " . . . Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat . . . " (Psalm 127:1-2)  It is not what we do for God, but what God does through us.  Here, these seven disciples labored all night in their fishing and did not catch a single fish.  We can get up early and work late, but if it is not God working through us, then our "labor" is "in vain."  "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Up to this time, Jesus had appeared on two consecutive Sundays in Jerusalem in the southern part of Israel.  Here, the disciples are fishing in "the Sea of Tiberias" (the Sea or Galilee) in Galilee in the northern part of Israel.  At the Last Supper, Jesus predicted His death, that His disciples would scatter, and that He would go to Galilee.  "Then Jesus told them, 'This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.'" (Matthew 26:31-32)  An angel and Jesus repeated the promise later.  An angel said to a group of women, "'Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.' So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'" (Matthew 28:7-10)

It appears that they, as a result of His promise, went "to Galilee."   But after they got there they had nothing to do, so Peter who always had to do something, decided to go fishing.  Some of the others joined him.

"It was certainly someone who knew the fisherman of the Sea of Galilee who wrote this story.  Night-time was the best for fishing.  W. M. Thomson in The Land and the Book describes night fishing: 'There are certain kinds of fishing always carried on at night.  It is a beautiful sight.  With blazing torch, the boat glides over the flashing sea, and the men stand gazing keenly into it until their prey is sighted, when, quick as lightning, they fling their net or fly their spear; and often you see the tired fishermen come sullenly into harbour in the morning, having toiled all night in vain.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

There was nothing wrong with them going fishing.  It provided Jesus, though, with an opportunity to illustrate what happens when we do something on our own without God's empowering.

They were only told to go to Galilee, but they were not told what they were to do when they got there.  It is hard for us to do nothing.  But, unless God works through us, all our efforts will be futile.  So, sometimes we need to just wait.  Jesus would later tell them to wait again.  "So when they met together, they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." (Acts 1:6-9)  They were to wait until God's time had come.  They were to wait until God's power came upon them.

Fishing for souls is not something we can do for God; it is only successful when God does it through us.  It is only He who can open the eyes of the spiritually blind.  It is only He who can cause a hardened sinner to see his or her sin as God sees it.  It is only He who can draw a person to Himself.  Paul understood this and describes his dependence on God in the following way:  "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)  Paul was able to successfully share the gospel with a woman named Lydia because God opened her heart.  "One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message." (Acts 16:14)  Christian fishing for souls is only possible in dependence on God and upon Him opening doors for us.  Paul realized that this was true.  "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should." (Colossians 4:2-4)

b. Jesus points out their human failure. (21:4-5)
"Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven’t you any fish?' 'No,' they answered."

Thought Question:  When have you worked hard in God's work, but saw no results?

 

 

There may be times when Jesus says to us: "Haven't you any fish?"  At those times, we have been laboring hard with no results or little results.

"but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus."  It may have been still dark enough so that they could not clearly see Him.  But, this is not the first time people did not recognize Him.  "Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. . . . Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight." (Luke 24:13-16, 31)  "At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus." (John 20:14)

"'No,' they answered."  They needed to admit their failure.  There are times when we are floundering and we need to admit it.  There have been many times through the years when I have cried out to God in complete helplessness.  I was at the end of my resources, and if God did not intervene, it would have been very difficult for me.  When God does intervene at those times, it is very clear that it was God who did it and not us.  Peter and the others were at one of those times in their fishing and in their ministry.  They were complete failures unless God helped them.  They were not heroes, for they had scattered when Jesus was taken prisoner.  "Then Jesus told them, 'This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”'" (Matthew 26:31)  Peter had tried to rescue Jesus with a sword.  He had only been successful in cutting off the ear of a servant, and Jesus had rebuked him for doing that.  Peter had denied Jesus numerous times at Jesus' trial.  Peter, James, and John had slept in the Garden of Gethsemane at Jesus' time of greatest need.  How could these bunch of failures ever be used by God?

c. Jesus gives them success. (21:6)
"He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish." ("153" "large fish" 21:11)

Thought Question:  Describe a time when you were at the end of your resources and you believe that God intervened and helped you to succeed.

 

 

Jesus illustrates for us how God's work gets done—He does it!  Through the years, there have been times when it has been obvious to me that God is working.  I remember an unusual children's camp when the children were remarkably receptive to the gospel message and to the teachings given in that camp.  What happened in that camp was like this remarkably large catch of fish.

It was so great a catch of fish that "they were unable to haul the net in."  The task before us as servants of Christ is impossible.  The opposition is too great.  People's hearts are so hardened.  What can we do against all of this?  The answer is, "nothing."  What can God do?  That is a completely different possibility.  "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, 'Who then can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (Matthew 19:23-26)

Peter and the others certainly remembered a similar time years before at the beginning of Jesus' ministry.  "One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink." (Luke 5:1-7)

d. A picture of God's abundant provision (21:7-14)
"Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead."

Thought Question:  John was the first to recognize that the miraculous catch of fish was the work of the Lord.  When were you aware that something was the work of the Lord?

 

 

"Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread."  Peter was the first of the disciples to take action.  He was the one who jumped out of the boat when He saw Jesus walking on the water.  "When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It’s a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.' 'Lord, if it’s you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus." (Matthew 14:26-29)  Here Peter is the first to take action again and he again "jumped into the water."

When they arrived at shore, the resurrected Lord had a fire going and a meal for them started.  What they saw and smelled was the result of Jesus serving them by cooking them a meal.  He had thought of their needs before they even knew He was there and before they even knew that He was the One that had yelled at them.

"Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn."  Again, it is Peter who is the first to act.  The fact there were "153" "large fish" in "the net" did not deter him.

"It was full of large fish, 153,"  In their amazement at the miraculous catch of "fish," they counted exactly how many "fish" they caught.  It was an unbelievable "fish" story that was true.

"but even with so many the net was not torn."  In Luke 5, where they caught another large catch of "fish," the nets did break.  "When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink." (Luke 5:6-7)  It appears that John records that their net did not break, because it should have broken, but did not.  When God leads in ministry, the normal laws of what should happen do not limit His work.  In heaven, we will learn of many things that should have happened, but did not.  Most Christians have heard stories of what should have happened, but did not.

"Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish."  Peter refers to what happened here, later in his ministry.  "He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead." (Acts 10:41)

"None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord."  Why did they not immediately recognize who He was?  Morris gives a possible explanation:  "It must be born in mind that there was something unusual about Jesus' appearance.  Earlier, Mary Magdalene had not recognized Him, and that very morning, just short time before, none of them knew Him and even Peter had to be told who he was.  But with this unasked question in their minds, it must have been a strange meal." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

"This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead."  Jesus "appeared to his disciples" on two consecutive Sundays (see 20:19-29), and this was "the third time" Jesus "appeared" to them.  How did these visitations prepare them for their ministry?  First, there now was no question that he had risen from the dead.  This enabled them to be fearless when faced with death.  Secondly, they knew that He could enable them to be successful in fishing for men—He would enable them to bear much fruit and catch many fish for His kingdom.  Both lessons that they learned are also lessons we can learn as well.  Jesus certainly wants us not to be afraid of men and to catch many fish.

7. Peter's reinstatement into Jesus' ministry (21:15-17)
"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.' The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.'"

Thought Question:  What do you believe was Jesus' purpose in asking Peter these questions?

 

 

"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you. Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.'"  What "Peter" learned in his three years with Jesus is what most Christians want to know and what all Christians should want to know.  He learned how be an effective servant of Jesus Christ.  Like all of us, he learned the hard way how to be the effective servant of Jesus Christ described in the book of Acts.  The reason that Jesus' school of ministry is so difficult is that our pride has to take such hard blows in the process of learning Jesus' way of ministry.  In these verses is "Peter's" final lesson during Jesus' time on earth.  The school did not end, though, at that time. See Galatians 2:11-14

Jesus focuses on "Peter" and asks, "do you truly love me more than these?'"  This was a very humbling question, for at one time Peter said that if all others failed Jesus, he would not.  "Then Jesus told them, 'This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.' Peter replied, 'Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.'" (Matthew 26:31-33)  See also John 13:37  After that statement by "Peter," Jesus predicted "Peter" would fail Him by denying Him.  "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.'" (Matthew 26:34)  Again, "Peter" declared that he would never deny Jesus.  "But Peter declared, 'Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.' And all the other disciples said the same." (Matthew 26:35) See also Mark 14:27-31

Since "Peter" turned out not to be the hero he had predicted he would be who would stand by Jesus when all the other disciples failed, he is not quite so confident here as he once had been.  Instead, he was the only disciple who denied Jesus.  We can see his lack of confidence in the Greek word that he uses when he responds to Jesus' question.  Jesus used the Greek word agape that is translated "truly love" in the NIV Bible.  "Peter" responds with, "'you know that I love you.'"  But the Greek word translated "love" is phileo, a word that is not as strong a word for "love" as Jesus used in the question.  According to Boice, it was if Jesus asked, "do you love Me with a one-hundred percent love — more than these others?" And as if "Peter" answered: "Yes Lord; You know that I love You with a sixty-percent love." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Peter also does not now say that he loves Jesus more than anyone else loves Him.  It is as if Jesus asks, "Are you completely devoted to me more than anyone else is?"  And "Peter" answers, "You know I have brotherly affection for you." 

"Peter" probably remembered sitting around another fire a few weeks before this time.  "Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. 'You are not one of his disciples, are you?' the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, 'I am not.' It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself." (John 18:15-18)

Most Christians, if not all Christians, can remember a time when we have been cocky and over-confident about ourselves and what we would do for God; and, then, we have fallen flat on our face.  We discovered that we are not the great Christian that we thought we were.  When we learn this lesson, it cuts deep inside of us.  Jesus' words cut deep into "Peter."  As he stood before Jesus, he realized that he was not the super-follower of Jesus he had once thought he was.  He was no longer the brash Peter he had once been.  He felt more like a pebble than the rock that Jesus had once called him.  He was the pebble that denied Jesus, not the rock that would never deny him.

Yet, Jesus said, "'Feed my lambs."  "Peter" undoubtedly felt like an employee that had just completed his probation period and who was sure that he had lost his job because of a number of failures that he had done.  He is called into the office of his boss, expecting to be told that he was being terminated for not meeting the minimum standards for the job.  Instead, the boss tells him he is now a permanent employee.  "Peter" failed, but Jesus commissions him to "feed" His "lambs."  Jesus was entrusting "Peter" to take care of those He died for.  "Peter" was a loser, not a winner.  How could Jesus trust him?  Jesus can only trust those who have learned that they cannot trust themselves.  The broken "Peter" was his man!

Here, we find the true motive for ministry.  It is not prestige, money, or power over people.  The motive for ministry is, "Do we "truly love" Jesus.

Once more, Jesus speaks: "Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.'"  Again, "Peter" says, "You know I 60% love you."  Jesus' words are a little different this time.  This time, Jesus does not ask, "Do you truly love me ­more than these?"  This time Jesus says, "Take care of my sheep"; whereas the first time it was, "Feed my lambs."  Jesus' "sheep" need to be cared for, for they (we) can go astray easily just like Peter had just gone astray.  Jesus did not give up on "Peter"; now "Peter" is not to give up on Jesus' "sheep."

Jesus asks him a third time.  "The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?'"  This time, Jesus used "Peter's" word—phileo.  Jesus asks "Peter," "Do you 60% love me?  The third time certainly reminded Peter of the three denials.  "Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.'"  Jesus gives "Peter" three opportunities to affirm his love for Jesus, to replace his three denials of Jesus.  "Peter" failed three times; Jesus affirms "Peter's" role in His church three times.  He gives the now humble "Peter," the most important job in the world.  If Jesus had not done this, "Peter" would never have been anything more than a fallen apostle.  Instead, He became the powerful evangelist who led the early church.

Although more denials are recorded in the four Gospels than three, each Gospel has three denials.  Jesus predicted that there would be three denials, but not that there would only be three.

Luis Palau, the evangelist, summarizes the process Jesus used to transform the brash and overconfident "Peter" into the powerful evangelist and leader of the early church.  "Everyone who wants to know the secret of being filled by Christ and becoming an effective, fruitful Christian has to go through an agonizing procession of thrilling blessings and heartbreaking failures.  There is no way to speed up the process.  There is no way to learn obedience and trust without Christ having to deal with us.  We are so stubborn, so rebellious, so self-confident that the Lord has to teach us to face ourselves, not as others see us, but as He sees us.  Only then do we realize in abject humility how much we need him.  We cannot change ourselves." "Taken from Walk on the Water, Pete! by Luis Palau.  Copyright 1981 by Multnomah Press."

"Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time"  He probably "was hurt" also because Jesus was challenging even his phileo-type love for Him.  Peter was human.  Jesus' method of reminding him of his fallibility as He commissioned him to the role of shepherd in His church was painful to "Peter."  The trials that come into our lives are also painful, but a loving God disciplines those that He loves. See Hebrews 12:4-13

What happened to Peter is very helpful to me, and it also may be very helpful to you.  As Jesus knew "Peter's" every weakness, so he knows our every weakness.  Still Jesus loves us with all of our weaknesses, and He can use us.  He powerfully used the fallen "Peter," and He can also use the fallen you and me.  "Peter" did "feed" Jesus' "sheep."  Now, He has passed the baton on to other shepherds.  "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 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." (I Peter 5:1-4)

I need to mention that some commentators do not see Jesus' and "Peter's" use of agape love and phileo love to be significantly different from each other.  They point out that these words are used interchangeably in the Gospel of John.  Wiersbe is an example of those who feel this way.  "In John 3:16, God's love for man is agape love; but in John 16:27, it is phileo love.  The Father's love for his Son is agape love in 3:35 but phileo love in 5:20.  Christians are supposed to love one another.  In John 13:34, this love is agape love; but in 15:19, it is phileo love.  It would appear that John used these two words as synonyms, whatever the fine distinctions there might have been between them." "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."  Nevertheless, there does seem to be a clear pattern in the use of agape and phileo in John 21:15-17 that highlights "Peter's" overconfidence earlier and his humility after his failures—his pride was clearly replaced with humility.

8. Jesus prepares Peter for his own death. (21:18-23)

a. A prediction of how Peter would die. (21:18-22)
"'I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, 'Follow me!' 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.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe Jesus tells Peter about how he would die?

 

 

"'I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God."  Jesus not only prepared "Peter" for the work that was ahead of him, but He also prepared him for his death.  Jesus, earlier, had described what the cost would be to follow Him.  "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)  "Peter" would need to deny his own personal goals and follow Jesus to the cross.  Tradition tells us the "Peter," like Jesus, died on a cross.  John, when he wrote this Gospel, already knew how "Peter" had died.  He also knew how "Peter" had glorified Jesus in his death by choosing to be crucified upside down.  Because of his love for Jesus, he did not want to be crucified like Jesus; so, he was crucified upside down.  "Peter" did fulfill the vow he once made to Jesus. "Peter asked, 'Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.'" (John 13:37)  He did "lay down" his "life for" Jesus.

"The manner of Peter's death is related by the church-fathers, as follows:  Eusebius: 'But Peter seems to have preached in Pontus and Galatia and Bithynia and Cappadocia and Asia, to the Jews of the dispersion, and at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head downward, for so he himself had asked to suffer' (The Ecclesiastical History III, i.)  Tertullian:  'At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood this rising faith.  Then is Peter girt by another when he is made fast to the cross' (Antidote for the Scorpion's Sting XV)." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  

"when you are old you will stretch out your hands,"  "The early church understood this as a prophecy of crucifixion."  "NIV Study Bible note."

"Then he said to him, 'Follow me!'"  "Accordingly, what Jesus meant was, 'Be my disciple and apostle, and such follow me in service, in suffering, and in death (by being willing to endure affliction and even martyrdom for my sake.).'  It was a renewed call to discipleship and to the duties of the apostolic office. (cf. Matt.4:10, 20)" "Hendriksen."

"and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.'"  "Dress you" may refer to being tied up with a rope and led with that rope to the cross, or even to having to carry the cross.

Although "Peter" had been a failure, he is a Christian hero now to all Christians who understand the cost of following Jesus.  "Peter" did love Jesus! 

"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.'"  Peter may have thought, "Are you just singling out me, What about him?" 

John makes it clear in verse 24 that Peter was asking about him.  "This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true." (John 21:24)

"Peter" was asking about John the author of the Gospel of John.  "Peter's" reason for asking about John is not made clear.  He may have been concerned that his good friend was also going to die a martyr's death.  He also might have wondered if he might be the only one who was going to die a martyr's death.  He might just have been curious and hoped that Jesus would go on with the prophecies about the disciples.  It might have been for all of these reasons.

"Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.'"  Peter quickly learned that his question was inappropriate.  Jesus told "Peter" that it was none of his business.  We are not to compare what is happening to us to what is happening to others.  "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." (II Corinthians 10:12)  We are to seek to be led by Christ.  When we start envying how God is dealing with others or feeling superior to others because God is blessing us, we are in forbidden territory.  They are our Master's servants, not our servants.  How He deals with them and us is His business, not ours.  We need to get our eyes off others who are serving the Lord and focus on following Jesus ourselves.  "Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4)  "Our glory is never in comparison to other men; our glory is the service of Christ in whatever capacity he has allotted to us." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

"In a symphony orchestra, a violinist cannot go around to the trombonist and say, 'Play louder here.'  The cymbalist cannot go to the oboist and demand, 'More pianissimo!'  That is the conductor's job, and the entire orchestra must keep focused on the conductor or the result will be discord!  If everyone plays his or her own part and keeps watching the conductor, the result will be beautiful, harmonious music.  This is how the church should operate, how it must operate!" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

b. A short correction of a misunderstanding (21:23)
"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?'"

Jesus was rebuking "Peter" by saying, "If I want him to remain until I return," then, that is my choice and it is not your business.  Some, then, concluded that John would never die.  John was an old man when this Gospel was written, and he, of course, was still alive.  So, some thought, Jesus had predicted that he would never die.  John, himself, corrects this myth.  Jesus was merely stating a hypothetical, not making a prophecy.

9. A concluding explanation (21:24-25)

a. The author is a dependable witness. (21:24)
"This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true."

This "disciple who testifies to these things" is either Peter or John.  Verses 21:18-19 indicate that Peter had already died and John knew about it.  "This" "disciple," then, refers to John the apostle who has been describing himself in this type of way throughout the Gospel. See 13:23-25, 18:15, 19:28-27,35, 20:8

He says here that he "testifies to these things." "Testifies" is in the present tense, describing a continuous action.  "This disciple, John, is one who is still bearing witness orally, and he recently recorded these things." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

"We know that his testimony is true."  These words appear to have been added by others to verify that John's words were trustworthy.  We have no way of knowing who those people were.  A possibility is that they were elders from the church of Ephesus where John ministered at the end of his life.  "The 'we' of verse 24 is to be understood as representing some official body—perhaps the church or churches John served." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Why does this Gospel need this testimonial at its end.  False teachers, such as the Gnostics, were also presenting their teaching as authentic.  John, the last of the apostles, says that he wrote it with his own hand.  And what he wrote is what He continued to testify to.

b. An explanation of why John chose to include some accounts of Jesus and excluded others (21:25)
"Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."

John wrote 21 chapters, but he could have written many more.  John uses a figure of speech here that is called a "hyperbole" to get his point across—he purposely exaggerates.  "I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."  The purpose of this purposeful exaggeration is to make it clear that he chose to record only a small portion of Jesus' life.  John did add many accounts from Jesus' life that were not included in Matthew, Mark, and Luke's Gospel accounts—for example, Jesus' first miracle, Jesus' time with Nicodemus and the woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, teaching about the Holy Spirit, the upper room discourse in John 14-17, and other accounts.  He could have written much more, but we have all that we need to have in order for us to "believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." (John 20:31)  "Though we have only four condensed accounts of that amazing life—the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—we have all the truth about Jesus that we need.  We have enough of the words and works of Jesus to convince us, to guide us, to inspire us, to encourage us, to empower us, to lead us to saving belief in Him." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

 And, so we come to the close of this wonderful account of Jesus.  With the last words of John, the Gospel accounts are complete.  He is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the eternal Word become flesh, the Creator of the universe, and "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)  I will close with the most famous verse in the Bible—a verse that is found in this Gospel of John. "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)

 

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